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& Brief History of tha EngloBh Lan- A Pronouncing Vocabulary of Greek 

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" Seventy years [lassed before Johnson was followed by Webster, an 
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"''R 21 1366 

^''^"•■TY Of I0«0*|'- 

10 8 9 51 



My business has been to give, in the follomng pages, 
a literal translation of the six books of Lucretius. 

This task I have carefully performed ; and it will, I 
trust, be no presumption to say, that he who wishes to 
know what is in Lucretius, -svithout perusing the original, 
will learn it from this volume with greater certainty 
than from any other previously offered to the EngKsh 

The text immediately followed is that of Forbiger, 
which may, indeed, be rather called Wakefield's, for the 
one varies but little from the other. But I have not dis- 
missed a single page of the translation without consulting 
the texts of Lambinus, Creech, and Havercamp, which 
are substantially the same, and, in many instances, far 
more satisfactory than Forbiger's. 

Concerning all disputed or obscure passages, I have 
diligently examined the commentators, especially Lam 
binus, who is almost instar omnium, Creech., and Wake- 
field; and have added explanatory notes, respecting 


either the subject matter, or the translation of particular 
words or phrases. 

The words which it has been found necessary to sup- 
ply are distinguished by Italics. 

AVliere a participle and a verb, having a similar signi- 
fication, come together in construction, they have occa- 
sionally been rendered as two verbs. Thus sparsus 
disjicitur would be translated is scattered and dispersed. 

The particle jam is sometimes omitted, and where a 
succession of copulative conjunctions occurs, which Lu- 
cretius uses superabundantly, one has occasionally been 
left out in the translation, or been rendered by while, as 
well as, or in some similar way, for the sake of variety. 
Any other deviations from the structure of the text, 
which in the least concern the student, are pointed out 
in the notes. 

Tu and tuus, in the addresses of the poet to Memmius 
or the general reader, are sometimes translated by thou 
and thine, and sometimes by you and your. "\VTiere 
Lucretius seemed to be particularly earnest, I have 
adopted the former mode, and in other cases the latter. 

J. s. w. 



Of the life of Lucretius but little information has reached ua. 
Ad nos vix tenuis famae perlabitiir aura. 

That he was a Roman by birth, is inferred from the pas- 
sages in his poem in which he speaks of the Roman world as 
his country,' and of the Roman language as his native tongue.* 

As to the time of his birth, it is stated by Eusebius in his 
Chrordcon, that he was born in the second year of the hundred 
and seventy-first Olympiad, or ninety-five years before Christ. 
At this period, Ennius had been dead about seventy years ; 
Cicero was in his twelfth year ; twenty-five years were to 
elapse before the birth of Virgil, and four before that of Julius 
Caesar. His style, indeed, would make him seem older, but 
its antiquated character may be partly affected, in imitation,^ 
perhaps, of Ennius, for whom he expresses great veneration. ^ 

Concerning his family nothing is known. The name of 
Lucretius, from the time of Lucretia downwards, occurs fre- 
quently in the history of Rome, with the surnames Tricipiti- 
nus, Cinna, Ofella, and others, attached to it ; but with whom 
the poet was connected, or from whom descended, it is impossi- 
ble to discover. There was a Lucretius Vespillo contemporary 
with him, a senator, mentioned by Cicero ■* and Caesar,^'' of 
whom Lambinus conjectures that he may have been the 
brother ; suggesting that the one brother, by engaging in 
public life, might have attained senatorial dignity, while the 
other, devoting himself to literature and retirement, might have 

* Nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore in'quo, etc, i. 42. 

M. 31; iii. 259. ^ I. 118. 

« Cic. Brut. c. 48. '• B. c. i. 18; iv 7- 


continued in the equestrian or even plebeian rank, in which 
he was born. But all this is mere empty conjecture. 

Equally groundless is the supposition, started also by Lam- 
binus, that in his youth he went to Athens to study, and 
there, under the instruction of Zeno, who was then at the head 
of the Epicureans, became imbued with the doctrines of Epi- 
curus. Tliat he attached himself to the tenets of Epicurus is 
certain, but when or where he studied them is not now to be 

Dunlop, however, asserts that "Lucretius icas sent, with 
other young Romans of rank, to study at Athens." ' Thus it 
is that errors creep into biography and history ; the learned 
conjecture, and the less learned affirm. Lambinus suggests 
that Lucretius might have gone to Athens, Dunlop states^'that 
he did go ; Lambinus says that it is probable, Dunlop says it 
is fact. 

He wrote his poem, or part of it, as appears from a passage 
near the beginning of the first book,^ at a time when the 
Roman commonwealth was in a disturbed state ; Imt whether 
the disorders to which he alludes were, as is generally supposed, 
those excited by Catiline, or, as Forbiger suggests, those which 
were raised by Clodius eight years afterwards, there is no 
means of deciding. 

His poem and his life, if we may trust Eusebius, were ended 
in the manner following. '• Having been driven to madness 
by an amatory potion, and having composed several books in 
the intervals of his insanity, which Cicero afterwards cor- 
rected, he died by his own hand in the forty-fourth year of 
his age." By whom the potion was administered, is conjec- 
tured only from a passage in St. Jerome, who says that a cer- 
tain Lucilia killed her husband or her lover, by giving him a 
philtre which was intended to secure his love, but of which the 
effect was to render him insane.^ This Lucilia is supposed 
to have been the wife or misti-ess of Lucretius, but by whom 
the supposition was first made, I am not able to discover. 

He is said by Donatus, or whoever wrote the old Life of 
Virgil, to have died on the day on which Virgil assumed the 
toga virilis. 

' Hist, of Rom. Lit. vol. i. p. 417. ' L 42. 

» Epist. Dissuas. ad llufinum, c. 22, toiT.. xi. p. 245 ed. Veron. 


That Cicero corrected what he wrote, there is, except Irora 
the passage in Eusebius, no indication. 

From a passage in Varro,' it has been concluded that he 
wrote many more books than have reached us ; for " Lucre- 
tius," says he, "suorum unius et viginti librorum initium 
lecit hoc : -lEtheris et terrae genitabile quaerere tempus." 
But Lambinus has very plausibly conjectured that for Lu- 
cretius should be substituted Lucilius, or the name of some 
other writer unknown to us. This is the more probable, 
observes Eichstadt, as Varro was older than Lucretius, and 
was not accustomed to draw examples and testimonies from 
younger writers. 

From the six books, as they now stand, there is no infer- 
ence to be drawn that more were written. That something 
more was intended is perhaps true ; for when we consider 
how the sixth book breaks off, we must either suppose that 
he designed to write a conclusion to it, or that he meant an- 
other book to follow. He signifies, however,^ that he was 
drawing to the conclusion of his undertaking ; and, indeed, 
the doctrines of Epicurus are so fully set forth in the six 
books, that little more could have been added respecting them. 

It is true that there are two or three allusions among the 
grammarians to passages and verses which are not now found 
in the six books ; allusions which have led to the belief that 
there were more books, but which, with other considerations, 
led Spalding, the editor of Quintilian,^ to the suspicion that 
there were two editions given by the author himself, and 
that, though the second was generally followed, the first waa 
not quite forgotten. Thus the 937th verse of the first book, 
which is now read, 

" Contingunt mellis dulci flavoque liquore," 
is cited by Quintilian, 

" Aspirant mellis dulci flavoque liquore." 

And Servius, on those lines in the Georgics,'* 

" Non ego cuncta meis amplecti versibus opto; 
Non mihi si linguae centum sint oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox," 

> De L. L. V. p. 27, ed. Spengel. ' vi. 45, 91. 

3 Inst. Or. iii. 1, 4. * IL 42. 


says, " The verses are Lucretius's ; but he has (enea vox, not 
ferrca ;" verses which are not now to be found in Lucretius. 
Tliis notion of two editions Eichstadt has noticed at some 
length in his dissertation, De Lucretii Vita et Carmine ; and 
Forbiger has written a long essay to show that Lucretius's 
verses have been much altered. " Fateor enim," says For- 
biger,' " ex quo primilm Lucretii carmen, studiosius perlege- 
rim operaraque meam ei navaverim, plures mihi oblatas esse 
causas suspicandi, nobis in his sex de rerum natura libris 
non unius Lucretii, sed duorum scriptorum longe diversorum 
nianum agnoscendam, ideoque hunc etiam auctorem iis annu- 
merandum esse, quorum scripta a serioribus multis in locis 
mutata, aucta vel contracta, emendata vel corrupta, denique 
longe alia ab ea, quam auctor ipsis dederit, forma induta, ad 
nostra tempora pervenerint." " I confess, that since I first 
read the poem of Lucretius with attention, and bestowed 
serious labour upon it, many reasons occurred to me for sus- 
pecting that, in these six books concerning the nature of 
things, we have to recognise, not the hand of Lucretius alone, 
but those of two writers of far different characters ; and that 
this author is therefore to be numbered with those, whose 
works have come down to us altered in many places by later 
writers ; having been augmented or diminished in bulk, 
amended or corrupted, and invested with a diiferent form 
from that which the author himself gave them." But per- 
haps, in the case of Lucretius, the variations which we find 
in the verses which are cited from him, are to be attributed, 
not to any regular revision or emendation of his writings, 
but to the casual mistakes of transcribers, and the lapse of 
memory in grammarians. Perhaps also passages, containing 
verses cited by Servius and others, have been lost. Lach- 
mann, the last editor, finds, or imagines that he finds, defi- 
ciencies in several pages. 

The Memmius to whom the poem is addressed, was, as 
Lambinus and others think, Caius Memmius Gemellus, a 
Roman knight, who is described by Cicero- as "a learned 
man, well-read in Greek, but disdainful of Latin literature ; 
a clever orator, and of an agreeable style ; but shrinking from 
the labour, not only of speaking, but even of thinking ; and 

' De Lucretii Carmine, p. 6. * Brut. 70. 


doing injustice to his ability by hi? want of industry." He 
became praetor, and after his prsetorship had the province of 
Bithynia, to which he was accompanied by Catullus the poet. 
Being supported by Cassar, he stood for the consulship, but 
was unsuccessful, and, after being accused and condemned of 
bribery, went into exile at Patrag, where he died. Cicero 
defended him on his trial, and addressed to him some letters 
which may be found in the thirteenth book of his Epistles to 
his friends.' 

The general voice of criticism has awarded to Lucretius 
high praise as a poet. The earliest notice which we find of 
his works, is that of Cicero in a letter to his brother Quintus,^ 
in which he says, as the passage stands in Ernesti, Lucretii 
poemata, ut scribis, ita sunt; non nmltis luminibus ingenii, 
mult(B tamen artis. " The poetry of Lucretius is such as you 
say ; having not much splendour of genius, but a great deal 
of art." Wakefield would omit the non, but is opposed by 
Eichstadt and Schutz, and by general opinion.^ Cicero, how- 
ever, if we read his words rightly, seems hardly to do justice 
to the poet,^ or to hit the general character of his work. To us, 
of the present day, he appears to be chiefly distinguished by a 
rough vigour, and to have been anxious rather to express his 
thoughts strongly, than to clothe them in elegance or niceties 
of language. Not that he disdained poetical beauties, for 
Virgil and others have found in him many worthy of adop- 
tion ; but vigour and animation seemed to have been his chief 
aim. Statins did him more justice, when he spoke of the 
docti furor arduus Lucreti^ " the lofty rage of the learned 
Lucretius."^ Ovid thoroughly understood his merit, and pre- 
dicted that his poem was destined to be immortal : 

Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucrcti, 
Exitio terras cum dabit una dies.' 

* See Lambinus in Prolegom. - Ad Quint. Frat. ii. 11. 

^ Tanaquil Faber proposed to read, omitting the non, " lita sunt 
multis luminibus," iSfc, which Ernesti, as Eichstadt remarks, justly 
condemns. Who indeed could endure the expression luminibus lineref 

■• See Warton's Essay on Pope, vol. ii. p. 328. 

* Stat. Sylv. ii. 7, 76. 

* This expression Gray seems to have had in his thoughts, when 
he wrote. 

Chill penury repress'd their noble rage. 

* Amor. i. Mi, 23. 



Cornelius Nepos ' ranks him in elegance with Catullus ; for 
speaking of a certain Julius Calidus, who was rescued from 
proscription by Pomponius Atticus, he calls him " the most 
elegant poet since the deatli of Catullus and Lucretius." 
Quintilian '^ gives him similar praise, saying that he is elegans 
in sua materia., elegant in his peculiar department, though he 
thinks him "difficult" for the student. Aulus Gellius"* calls 
him a poet " excelling ingenio et facundid, in genius and force 
of language;" Serenus Saramonicus^ styles him "the great 
Lucretius;" and Velleius Paterculus, '^ Vitruvius,'' SenecaJ 
Maci'obius,** and Pliny the younger,^ notice him as ranked 
among the most eminent poets, though without bestowing on 
him any specific commendation. He is recognised in a simi- 
lar way by Propertius '" and Tacitus." 

There was thex'efore little cause for Dunlop to complain of 
" the slight mention that is made of Lucretius by succeeding 
Latin authors," and of "the coldness with which he is spoken 
of by all Roman critics and poets, with the exception of Ovid." 
Horace, indeed, who makes abundant mention of Ennius and 
Lucilius, has, it must be acknowledged, not named Lucretius. 
Dunlop, to account for this silence of Horace, and the sup- 
posed intended silence of others, suggests that " the spirit of 
free-thinking which pervaded his writings, may have rendered 
it unsuitable or unsafe to extol his poetical talents. There 
was a time," he adds, " when, in this country, it was thought 
scarcely decorous or becoming to express high admiration of 
the genius of Rousseau and Voltaire." With reference to 
Horace, and his times, there may liave been some ground for 
this supposition. Cicero, in his De Amicitid,^'^ introduces Lse- 
lius saying that " he does not agree with those who have 
lately begun to assert that souls perisli together with their 
bodies, and that death makes an end of all." " I rather sub- 
mit myself," he continues, "to the authority of the ancients, or 
of our own forefathers, wiio appointed religious rites for the 
dead ; rites which they would not have instituted, had they 
thought that the dead could not be aifected by them, * * * 
or to the authority of him who was pronounced by the oracle 

» Vit. Att. xii. 4. - Instit. Or. x. 1. * Noct. Att. i. 21. 

* De iNIedic. ver. 614. ^ Hist. Rom. ii. 36. « Lih. ix. a. 
' De Tranq. An. sect. 2; Ep. xcv. cx- * Sat. vi. '2. 

• Ep. iv. 18. '» Eleg. ii. 2.i, W. '' Dial, de Or. 23. '^ Cap. i. 


of Apollo the wisest of men ; and who did not on this, as on 
most subjects, assert sometimes one thing and sometimes an- 
other, but maintained invariably the same opinion, that the 
souls of men are divine, and that, when they are released from 
the body, a return to heaven is open to them, and first of all 
to the best and most worthy. But," he concludes, as if un- 
willing to side too closely with either party, " should the 
^pinion of those beJLru e, who think that the soul an^the body 
perishjtogetherv and that all sense is terminated^by. their 
separation, death_will theD-_be attended with neither goo d nor_ 

evih ^ 

~^ TEemodems have certainly not been less willing to praise 
Lucretius than the ancients. Barthius ' and Turnebus ^ com- 
mend the attractive simplicity of his antique Latinity ; Cri- 
nitus and Casaubon ^ speak of his style in a similar manner ; 
and Julius Scaliger^ calls him " a divine man, and incompar- 
able poet." The eulogies bestowed upon him by Lambinus, 
Faber, and his other commentators, I omit, as they might be 
regarded as the offspring of partiality. 

Our own countrymen have not been behind others in offer- 
ing their tribute of admiration, as exhibited in editions, trans- 
lations, remarks, and quotations. Dr. Warton, in his Essay on 
Pope,'' calls the Nature of Things "the noblest descriptive 
poem extant," and has most happily illustrated the poet's 
vigour of conception and execution : " The Persians," says 
he, " distinguish the different degrees of the strength of fancy 
in different poets, by calling them painters or sculptors. .Lu- 
cretius, from the force of his images, should be ranked among 
the latter. He is, in truth, a sculptor-poet. His images have 
a bold relief" " If Lucretius had not been spoiled by the 
Epicurean system," says Lord Byron,^ "we should have had a 
far superior poem to any now in existence. As mere poetry, 
it is the first of Latin poems." But the most discriminating 
and ample praise, that has been given him by any English 
author, is that of Dryden :'' 

" If I am not mistaken," says he, " the distinguishing cha- 

' Advers- xxiii. 1. ^ Advers. xviii. 6. 

' Not. in Johan. c. 5, cited in the Life prefixed to Creech's version. 

* In Aristot. Hist. Anim. x. 53. 

* \'ol. i. p. 50, and vol. ii. p. 105, note. ^ Letter on Bowles. 
' Preface to his second Miscellany of Translations. 

b l 


racter of Lucretius, I mean of his soul and genius, is a certair, 
kind of noble pride, and positive assertion of his own opinions. 
He is every where confident of his own reason, and assuming 
an absolute command, not only over his vulgar readers, but 
even his patron Meramius ; for he is always bidding him at- 
tend, as if he had the rod over him, and using a magisterial 
authority, while he instructs him. * * * He seems to disdain 
all manner of replies, and is so confident of his cause, that he 
is beforehand witli his antagonists ; ursins for them whatever 
he imagined they could say, and leaving them, as he supposes, 
without an objection for the future. All this too with so 
much scorn and indignation, as if he were assured of the tri- 
umph before he entered into the lists. 

" From this sublime and daring genius of his, it must of 
necessity come to pass, that his thoughts must be masculine, 
full of argumentation, and that sufficiently warm. From the 
same fiery temper proceeds the loftiness of his expressions, 
and the perpetual torrent of his verse, when the barrenness 
of his subject does not too much restrain the quickness of his 
fancy. For there is no doubt to be made, but that he could 
have been every where as poetical as he is in his descriptions, 
and in the moral part of las pliilosophy, if he had not aimed 
more ta instruct in his system of nature, than to delight." 

With regard to the subject of his poem, Lucretius is to be 
contemplated as a natural and moral philosopher. 

Tlie physical part of his philosophy, and most, indeed, of the 
moral part, he took from Epicurus, who, as Cicero* observes, 
had previously adopted his physics from Democritus. Of this, 
the great principle is, that nothing can proceed from nothing,"^ 
and that, consequently, this world, in which we live, and 
every other object in the imiverse, was formed from matter 
that previously existed. How this matter came to exist, we 
need not inquire ; we are to suppose that it existed always. 
In its original state it was an infinitude of detached atoms, 
moving or falling through unlimited space ; for that space is 
unlimited is by Lucretius elaborately proved.^ 

These atoms are infrangible and indestructible ; for matter 
is not infinitely divisible ; there must be a point at wliich di- 

• De Fin. i. 6.  I. 156, 541. ' L 967- 


Ttsion ends. They are hard and solid, or they would be un- 
able to endure agitation and attrition throughout an infinity 
of ages.' They are of different shapes, suited for the forma- 
tion of various substances by combination. ^ The number of 
their forms, however, is limited ; but the number of each form 
is infinite.^ 

The atoms were moving ; but whence had they the begin- 
ning of motion ? Fi*om their own gravity ; for all bodies 
move downwards by their own weight.'' This is the com- 
mencement of absurdity in the system ; for, if space be infi- 
nite, one direction in it cannot be called downivrirds more than 
another ; as Lucretius himself indeed acknowledges, observing 
that nil est funditus imum;^ nor can any reason be assigned 
why an atom should move from one part of infinite space to 

This commencement of motion, however, being assumed, it 
is next to be shown how atoms combined. Had they all 
moved, as might have been supposed, in straight lines, as they 
fell or proceeded through space, there could have been no 
coalition among them, unless the heavier had overtaken the 
lighter. But Lucretius, or Epicurus, had sufiicient conception 
of the motion of bodies in empty space, to understand that light 
bodies must move through it as speedily as heavy ones, and 
that, consequently, one atom could not overtake another.'' It 
was necessary, therefore, to make some of them deviate from 
the straight or perpendicular line, and it is accordingly as- 
sumed that some do deviate from it. " This supposition," 
says Cicero,^ " is mere puerility ; for he introduces the devia- 
tion arbitrarily; he makes some atoms decline from the straight 
course without cause ; and to say that any thing takes place 
without a cause is to a natural philosopher the most disgrace- 
ful of all things. To assert, too, that some decline, and some 
go straight onwards, is, as it were, to give properties and duties 
to atoms despotically, determining which is to go in a right 
line, and which obliquely." 

But when, from partial deviations, some had come in con- 
tact with others, they began to form combinations. Tliey 
strove, as it were, for a long time ineffectually,^ but at length 

• I 484—635. '" II. 9'lr— 107. ^ II. 426—580. 

* II. 79—87. ' I. 992. « II. 225, seq. ' De Fin. i. 6. 

' I. J023, seq.; V. 188—195. 


the larger and heavier atoms coalesced into the denser sub- 
stances, as earth and water ; the smaller and lighter, into more 
subtle matters, as air and fire. From combinations of such 
substances arose plants and animals ; as trees and worms still 
spring from the earth when it is moistened and warmed. Of 
the rise of animals in general, and of man especially, tlie reader 
will find an ample account, according to the notions of Epi- 
curus, in the fifth book.^ 

Nature does not abhor a vacuum. On the contrary, it is 
necessary that there should be, throughout the whole of mat- 
ter, certain portions of empty space, or the movement of par- 
ticles would be utterly impeded. Water, for instance, could 
not be a liquid, unless there were vacuities among its atoms 
to allow them to yield to pressure.^ 

Man consists of a body and a soul. The body is constituted 
of coarser, and the soul of finer matter. Both are produced 
together, and grow up and decay together ; at death, the con- 
nexion between them is dissolved ; the soul takes its departure, 
to be decomposed, and mingled with other matter ; and the 
body begins to decay, that it may undergo a similar fate. 

The mind is intimately connected with the soul ; so inti- 
mately that they must be said to form one substance. Both 
are composed of heat, vapour, air, and a certain fourth sub- 
stance, which has no name, but which is the most important 
of the four, as being the origin of motion in the whole man. 
That both are wholly corporeal is indisputable, from their 
power to act on the body : 

Tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res.^ 

Ideas of objects in the mind are produced by the mysteri- 
ous action of images of things on the soul and intellect ; images 
of a light vapoury substance, which are perpetually passing 
oiF from the surface of all bodies whatsoever, and exhibiting 
the exact resemblance of the olijects from which they are de- 
tached. Other images, too, are formed spontaneously in the 
atmosphere, as we see clouds, at times, form themselves into 
likenesses of things on the face of the sky. Of images, ac- 
cordingly, the number is infinite, so that, whenever a man 
wishes to think on any thing, the image of it is generally ready 

> Ver. 780, seq. - I. 317—383, et seq. 

* On the Soul, see book iii. passim. 


to present itself for his contemplation. If he cannot recollect 
what he wishes to think on, he may consider that an image of 
it is not at hand. Dreams are excited by images, which, as 
they pass through the air, penetrating the coverings of the 
body, come in contact with such atoms of the soul as are at 
the surface of the body, and thus communicate their impres- 
sions to the whole of the soul and mind. 

Vision is produced by the same images flying off from the 
surface of the objects at which we look, and striking on the 
eye. Reflection from mirrors, and other smooth surfaces, is 
produced by the image first striking the reflecting plane, and 
then being reverberated to the eye. Voice, like all sounds, is 
a corporeal substance, because it frequently, as it passes forth, 
causes abrasion of the throat, and because much speaking ex- 
hausts the corporeal frame by detraction of atoms.' 

The members and organs of the body were not formed with 
a design that they might be used ; for there could have been 
no design in the offspring of fortuitously meeting atoms ; but, 
as they have been formed, and we find them capable of being 
used, we apply them, accordingly, to the uses for which they 
seem adapted. The feet were not formed for walking, but, 
as we find they enable us to walk, we employ them in walking.^ 

Of all our knowledge the foundation must rest on the per- 
ceptions of our senses. To our senses we can assuredly trust, 
for what shall refute them ? Will any thing distinct from 
thera refute them, or will they refute one another? That 
which shall convict them of falsehood must be more trust- 
wortliy than they ; but what can be more trust-worthy ? 
What shall convince us that those bodies which appear to 
the senses square, or hot, or black, are not possessed of those 

The motions and combinations of atoms being established, 
all natural phaenomena, as thunder, lightning, rain, earth- 
quakes, are easily shown to arise from their changes of place 
and effects on one another."* 

Even were it not demonstrable that the world was for- 
tuitously formed by the coalescence of atoms, it might yet be 
safely affirmed, from the numerous faults apparent in it, and 
from the various causes of suffei'ing to animal life which it 


Of images, &c. see book iv. passim. ^ IV. 825. 

* IV. 380— 523. * See book V. 


contains, that it was not made by divine wisdom as an abode 
for living creatures.' It sprung into being casually; and 
animals, that casually sprung from it, make the best of that 
abode to which they are confined, and from which there is no 
release but death. 
^ This world, which we inhabit, is not the only one in tlie 
universe.^ The number of atoms being infinite, it is naturally 
fo be supposed that they must have produced more worlds 
than one. It is therefore probable that there are many 
worlds of many kinds. And as these woi'lds have been gener- 
ated, we may fairly argue that they also decay. Men, other 
animals, and the trees of the forest, are born but to die ; and 
 why should not a world be subject to the same fate as the 
things which grow in it ? We see, indeed, the symptoms of 
decadence in the world which we inhabit ; for the present pro- 
ductions of the earth are not of the same vigour as those of 
its earlier days. All, then, around us, we may conclude is 
making progress towards dissolution ; the great globe ■will 
continue to sink and grow infirm, until at last, mouldering and 
disruptured, it scatters its atoms through surrounding space, to 
contribute to the formation of other worlds like or unlike 

Star after star from heaven's bright arch shall rush, 
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush ; 
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall. 
And Death, and Night, and Chaos, mingle all. 
Till, o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm, 
\ Immortal Nature lifts her changeful form, 
1 Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame, 
1 And soars and shines another and the same. Darwin. 

Such were the genei-al tenets of Lucretius as a natural 
philosopher ; tenets on which the reader will find him amply 
enlarging in the following pages. 

His doctrines as a moral philosopher may be noticed with 
greater brevity. 

His great boast as a moralist was, that he freed men from 
the terrors of death, and of suffering after death. The soul, 
says he, when it is separated from the body, is dispersed among 
the matter from which it was collected, and the man ceases to 
be. His atoms continue to exist, for they are indestructible, 
but his own existence, as an individual being, is no more. He 

' V. 196, seq.  II. 1075. 


IS separated into his parts, and his consciousness that he ever 
existed as a whole is at an end. Of what has been, he will 
have no recollection ; of what shall be, he will have no 
knowledge. Why then should he dread to die, when after 
death no suffering can ensue ? He that is about to die 
young, may felicitate himself that he shall escape that trouble 
and affliction of which some falls to the lot of every man ; he 
that dies at an advanced age, may be satisfied that he has had 
so long opportunity for those enjoyments of which no man 
fiiils to obtain some. After a certain period life offers nothing 
new, and why should we seek to prolong it ? ' 

The greatest enjoyment of life consists in tranquil plea- 
sure. To labour or honour and dignities, which are unsatis- 
factory when a'^ained, is mere folly. Nature lias supplied 
every thing necessary to satisfy our wants, and to enable us 
to spend our existence in ease, contentment, and pleasure ; if 
we only study the best method of making the most of what 
is set before us. A wise man can live on a little ; and to live 
contentedly on a little is to be equal in enjoyment to him who 
•has more than ourselves, and who, however much he may 
have, can have no solid satisfaction unless he is contented 
with that which he possesses.^ The highest degree of wisdom 
that we can attain, is to be able to look down from the serene 
elevations of philosophy, on the unreasoning crowds wander- 
ing beneath us, seeking for the path of happiness, and vainly 
hoping to find it in the pursuit of the splendours and distinc- 
tions of the world.^ 

Whether he really believed in the existence of gods, that 
is, of beings of a similar but superior nature to ourselves, it 
is not easy, from the perusal of his works, to decide. He at 
times speaks of gods, like Epicurus, as certainly existing,'* and 
enjoying a state of tranquil felicity, unconcerned about the 
affairs of the world, and unaffected by human good or human 
evil.^ At other times, he seems to consider them as mere 
creatures of the imagination, to which men have attributed, 
in the operations of nature, those effects of which they cannot 
discover the causes.^ 

' Bookiii., sMi/n. ^ II. 20— 60. ' II. 1—13. 

* VI. 76. In ii. 599, he notices that the earth is called magna 
de'im Mater, Materque ferarum, as if gods and beasts had alike sprung 
from her. » II. 644—651. « V. 1168, Jey. 


The first edition of Lucretius was printed at Brescia, by Fer- 
andus, without date, but, as Wakefield and otiiers think, about 
the year 1470. It is of all editiones principes the most rare. 

The second edition appeared at Verona, printed by Freiden- 
perger, .in 1486, and the third at Venice, by T. de Rajzazoni- 
bus, in 1495. From Venice, too, in 1500, came forth the 
first edition of Aldus ; and fifteen years afterwards the second, 
superintended by Naugerius, who did more to make his author 
intelligible than had been done in the former edition. In the 
mean time, however, (loll,) had appeared at Bononia the 
edition of Baptista Pius, who brought much learning and 
ability to bear upon his author, and many of whose notes are 
still worthy of preservation. 

The second edition of Aldus is said by Lachmann ' to have 
been greatly improved from the revised text of Michael Ma- 
rullus, which was published from his manuscripts after his 
death, by Petrus Candidus, whose name the edition bears, at 
Florence, in 1512; of which text succeeding editors have 
overlooked the merits, or have been unwilling to do justice 
to them. 

But all other editions were thrown into the shade by those 
of Lambinus, of which the first appeared in 1563, the second 
in 1565, and the third in 1570. Of all editors and expound- 
ers of Lucretius, Lambinus still deserves to stand at the head. 
He is accused by Wakefield of inconsulta tenteritas, injudici- 
ous rashness, in intruding his own conjectures into the text ; 
and by Eichstadt, of having had too high an opinion of his 
own judgment and ability; but though there be some grounds 
for such accusations, his character as an editor is still of the 
highest order. He brought to his work a powerful mind, and, 
knowing that Lucretius always intended to write sense, he 
took upon himself to put sense, perhaps at times too arbi- 
trarily, into verses which had been left meaningless by tran- 
scribers. And it is surely no dishonour to him to have sb.own 
his contempt for such a man as Gifanius, who, in 1565, printed 
an edition at Antwerp, and whose annotations have little other 
claim to notice than that of attacking Lambinus with the 
meanness with which a low mind always attacks a higher. 

Prolegom. in Notas, p. 11. 


There were some other editions, but of not much account, 
between Gifenius's and that of Tanaquil Faber, which was 
published in 1662, containing notes, brief indeed, but evincino- 
the great learning and acuteness of the editor. 

To Faber, in 1695, succeeded Creech. His text is Lambi- 
nus's with scarcely any variation, and though he never fails to 
expose a mistake of Lambinus when he finds one in his comment- 
ary, he is very ready to profit by all Lambinus's instructions. 
His interpretatio, after the manner of the Delphin editions, is of 
little use, for, wherever there is any difficulty of construction, 
he invariably abbreviates. Yet, if we may credit the last 
editor, Lachmann, " multa rectius interpretatus est quam 
scripsit, in philosophia explicand^ sane diligens, sed linguae 
Latinse imperitissimus." This is too strong ; but there are 
in his notes inelegances and inaccuracies. 

In 1725 appeared the splendid edition of Havercamp, which 
is extremely useful, as containing all the notes of Lambinus, 
Gifanius, Creech, and Faber, with a selection from those of 
Pius, and with a few, of considerable value, from Abrahamus 
Preigerus, a friend of Havercamp. Of Havercamp's own 
there is comparatively little. 

At length, in 1796, came out, with a dedication to Fox, the 
well-known edition of Wakefield. Wakefield had discovered, 
by the inspection of a manuscript or two, that Lambinus had 
taken, as he thought, unjustifiable liberties with the text of 
Lucretius, and conceived that he should be enabled to re- 
store it to something like its original integrity. Had he 
been content to reinstate only those words or phrases which 
Lambinus or others had unreasonably ejected, he might have 
done greater service, but he replaced also such readings as 
any editor would have been blamed for suffering to remain. 
I will give one instance. In Lambinus and Creech the 863rd 
verse of the third book stands thus : 

Interrupta semel quum sit repetentia nostra ; 

" repetentia nostra," our memory or recollection. This is in- 
telligible ; but Wakefield finding in manuscripts nostris, re- 
placed it as a crux to his reader, who, as soon as he comes to 
it, is stuck fast. What, he inquires, is to be understood with 
nostris? It is in vain to seek for any clung in what precedes, 
and ho must consult Wakefield's notes to find that, according 


to Wakefield's notion, rebus must be supplied. How much 
the difficulties in an author may be increased by such change^ 
is easily conceivable ; but he who has only read Lambinus or 
Creech's edition of Lucretius, can have no conception how 
much the difficulties in Lucretius have been increased by 
Wakefield's arbitrary alterations. Whether Wakefield ever 
"construed through a brick wall," I do not know ; but that he 
has raised abundance of brick walls through which others 
are left to construe, is manifest. There is in his notes, 
besides other unnecessary matter, a vast quantity of super- 
fluous railing at the inscitia and inverecundia of Lambinus, 
and the inscitia and stupor of Creech, of which the reader may 
see an average specimen on vi. 582, and in various other 
places. A man worthy to edit Lucretius should have for- 
borne to apply the term inscitia to such a predecessor as 

In 1801, Wakefield's text was reprinted at Leipsic by 
Eichstadt, who had previously obtained repute by his edition 
of Diodorus Siculus. The first volume, containing the text 
of the six books, judicious prolegomena, and an excellent in- 
dex, is the only one that has appeared. 

In 1828 came forth the edition of Forbiger, which, chiefly 
perhaps from the convenience of its size, has been much used. 
His text is Wakefield's, with but very few alterations, and all 
his explanations of passages are Wakefield's. His work, says 
Lachmann, was mercenary; and it would be doing him great 
injustice to suppose him capable of seeing any thing by the 
light of his own intellect. 

In 1850, at Berlin, appeared Lachmann's edition, in two 
thin volumes octavo. He is a little too fond of transposing 
verses, and discovering deficiencies in the text, but deserves 
great commendation for restoring many readings that Wake- 
field had ejected. His notes are not at all explanatory, bat 
are wholly occupied about changes in the text. 

With regard to versions of Lucretius, the earliest attempt 
to render him into English was made by John Evelyn, the 
author of" Sylva," who, in 1656, published the first book in 
verse, with a commentary. His lady designed the frontispiece, 


and Waller prefixed a copy of verses. The translation is 
faithful, but tame. 

In 1682 was published the translation by Creech, which, as 
the first complete version of the poet, was cordially w^elcomed. 
Evelyn furnished some laudatory couplets, saying how much 
he was pleased that the entire work had fallen to more vigor- 
ous hands than his own. Duke, Tate, and Otway gave also 
their tribute of verse, and Creech was every where known as 
the English Lucretius. But posterity have had time to dis- 
covei the faults in his performance. Many of his lines are 
vigorous, but many are stiff and awkward ; and the licences 
which he has taken with the original are almost beyond be- 
lief. Whoever will look at the commencement of his first 
book, will find that between the tenth and sixteenth verses he 
inserts five lines of his own. Similar interpolations may be 
found in other places ; and he likewise curtails with equal 
freedom whenever it suits his purpose. 

About the same time Dryden produced some translations, or 
rather paraphrases, of particular passages, executed with his 
usual vigour. 

In 1743 there appeai'ed, in two volumes octavo, a prose 
translation, w^hich Good calls Guernier's, but which was the 
work of an unknown hand. Guernier, with others, furnished 
the plates. The version is but indifferent. Some parts of it, 
though printed as prose, run into blank verse. 

In 1799 the first book was translated in rhyme by an 
anonymous author; and in 1808, also in rhyme, by the Rev. 
W. Hamilton Drummond. Both versions have merit, but the 
greater share of praise belongs to Mr. Drummond. 

In 1805 Dr. Good laid before the public his two quarto 
volumes, containing a version of the whole poem in blank 
verse, with copious notes. This translation is in general 
pleasing and animated, but some parts are rather stiff. Taken 
as a whole it is by far tlie best extant, and is deemed, by my 
publisher, a desirable addition to the present volume. 

In 1813 was published by subscription, in two pompous 
volumes quarto, the rhymed version of Thomas Busby, Mus. 
D. He is, to do him justice, tolerably faithful to the sense, but 
his couplets are far inferior to those of Mr. Drummond's First 
Book. His notes are heavy and tedious ; and all his learning 
second-hand. The whole book reminds the reader of the com- 


mencement of his well-known prologue, which Lord Byron, 
says Moore, unnecessarily travestied : 

When enerpfizing objects men pursue, 
What are the prodigies they cannot do ! 

In French, Lucretius has been translated several times. 
The earliest version is that of the Abbe de MaroUes, in prose, 
published in 1650, which has not obtained more esteem than 
his other translations of classical authors. In I680 another 
prose translation was published by the Baron de Coutures, 
which is paraphrastic, but seems tolerably faithful to the sense. 
In 1768 La Grange published a third, which gives the thoughts 
of the poet with exactness, but svants vigour and animation ; 
and in 1794 Le Blanc de Guillet brought out a fourth, in verse, 
which I have not minutely examined, but on which his coun- 
trymen set no very high value. The last, in 1825, was that 
of Pongerville, in prose, rather a paraphrase than a transla- 
tion, and preserving nothing of the sententiousness of Lu- 

The Italian version of Marchetti, in blank verse, published 
in London 1717, and since several times repi'inted, has always 
been highly esteemed. 

The Germans have three translations; one by Mayr, 1784, 
in prose, which Degen, cited by Moss, calls " pretty accurate ;" 
another by Meineke, 1795, in hexameter verse, which is ge- 
nerally considered faithful to the sense ; and the last by Kne- 
bel, 1821, which is also in hexameter verse, and which is the 
most highly valued of the three. 

The Dutch have a prose translation by De Wit, printed in 
1701, which Good says that he had seen, "but without being 
induced to imitate it." 

I beg leave to observe, that, in the notes attached to the 
following translation, I have not taken upon me to refute any 
of the doctrines of Lucretius or Epicurus. To have offered 
formal ret'utations of tliem would have occupied more space 
than could be atforded in the present volume; and many 
of them, in these days, require no refutation. I have there- 
fore restricted myself to discharging that which Drydt^n ad- 
monishes me to be the duty of a translator. — to do ini/ author 
all the ri'iht I can, and to translate him to the best advantac 


Those who seek fur arguments against his tenets, physical or 
moral, may find them in Lactantius ; in Arnobius ; in the 
Anti-Lucretius of Cardinal Polignac ; in the Bridgewater 
Treatises ; and in abundance of other English books. 

The famous refutation by Cardinal Polignac, called Anti- 
Liicretius, I might have quoted in every page ; and the reader 
will perhaps wonder that I have not done so. But I for- 
bore to quote him, as I forbore to quote others. He assailed 
Lucretius with great determination ; his versification, though 
deficient in Lucretian ardour, is always respectable, and some- 
times elevated ; and he would perhaps be more read, had he 
not unluckily, as Voltaire observes, when he attacked Lucre- 
tius attacked JS'ewton. 




Lucretius invokes Venus as the great cause of production, ver. 1 — 44. He 
then dedicates his work to Memmius ; praises Epicurus, whose doctrine 
he follows; vindicates his subject from the charge of impiety ; exposes the 
emptiness of the religious sj-stem of his day, and the fictions of the 
poets ; and introduces, not without allusion to the difficulties to be over- 
come, the great arguments of which he proposes to treat, ver. 45 — 159. 
Entering upon his subject, he sho-wsljirst, that nothing can px&ceed from 
nothing, and that nothing can return to nothing, ver. 160 — 265j Secondly, 
that there are certain minute corpuscles, which, though imperceptible to 
our senses, are conceivable in our minds, and from which all things origin- 
ate, ver. 266 — 329. Thirdly, that there is vacuwn or empty space, ver. 
330 — 430. Fourthly, that there is nothing in the universe but body and 
apace, and that all other things which are said to be, are only adjuncts 
or eveiits, properties or accidents of body and space, ver. 431 — 483. He 
then proceeds to demonstrate that the primary corpuscles, or elements of 
things, are perfectly solid, indivisible, and eternal, ver. 484 — 635. He re- 
futes those who had held other opinions, as Heraclitus, who said that fire 
was the origin of things ; and others, who had maintained the same of air, 
water, and earth, ver. 636—712. He attacks Empedocles, who said that 
the universe was compounded of the four elements, and Anaxagoras, who 
advocated the homceomc7-ia, ver. 713 — 919. He then contends that the 
universe is boundless, that atoms are infinite in number, and that space 
must be unlimited, ver. 920 — 1050. Lai^itly, he refutes those who think 
that there is a centre of things, to which heavy bodies tend downwards, 
and light bodies upwards ; and concludes with a praise of philosophy, 
which assists mankind to penetrate the mysteries of nature. 

2 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 1—4. 

O BorNTiFUL Venus, ' mother of the race of ^neas,"'* delight 
of gods and men, who, beneath the gliding constellations 
of heaven,"* fillest witli life'' the ship-bearing sea and the 
fruit-producing earth ;^ since by thy influence eveiy kind of 

' O bountiful Venus.] Ver.2. Alma Ve7ius. The word means Awrf, 
bountiful, benignant, nourishing, from alo, to nourish. " It is said of the 
gods," says Forcellini, " particularly svich as are thoup^ht to give life 
or food to men." Thus we have alma Ceres, Virg. Geo. i. 7, alme 
Sol, Hor. Cariii. Stec. 9, besides alma Tellus, and many other similar 
applications of the epitliet. Horace has also ahna Venus, Od. iv. 15, 
.31. And Ausonius has the same expression in many places, besides 
this inscri])tion for a statue of Venus, which he has borrowed from 
Lucretius : 

Orta salo, suscepta solo, patre edita coelo, 
iEneadum genetrix, hie liabito ahna Venus. 
"Others," says Creech, "interpret lata, fcecunda, grata; I prefet 
he7iigna, a word which expresses all the other virtues of Venus, to 
which Lucretius has regard not less than to her fecundity." 

* Mother of the race of ^Eneas.] Ver. 1. JEneadmn genetrix. He 
thus names the Romans, as being descended from ^Eneas. Virgil 
and Ovid give them the same appellation. 

^ Gliding constellations of heaven.] Ver. 2. Cceli labentia signa. 
The same as signa labentia calo, or in coelo; the form of expression 
which Virgil uses, ^n. iii. 515, Sidera cuncta notat tacito labentia ccelo. 

* Fillest with life.] Ver. 4. Concelebras. The only question as to 
the translation of this word is, whether it is to be rendered visitest fre- 
quently, or render est populous, that is, fillest with animal life. The latter 
signification is, in my opinion, infinitely better adapted to what fol- 
lows, than the former ; and I have the best of the commentators on 
my side. Thus Pius : Auges tuo dulci initu, nt ita mtdtiplicata celebria 
si7it et papulosa. Lambinus : Celebres [^terras'\ reddis. Creech : Reples 
etexornas. These commentators notice, indeed, the other acceptation, 
but give the preference to this. Wakefield interprets " frequentas 
— permeas — incolis — agitas," all which he gets from Nonius Marcel- 
lus, who has " commoves." The word occurs twice in other places of 
Lucretius, but not in any sense that illustrates this passage. It is to 
be observed that the preposition con, with, is not to be considered 
useless; looking to the subject of the poem, we ma}' regard it as 
signifying that Venus (herself material) co-operates with tnitter in 
general to render the earth and sea friutful. 

* The ship-bearing sea and the fruit-producing earth.] Ver. 3. 
Qu(s mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentes Concchhras. The words 
are rendered literally, except that for the relative pronoun is substi- 
tuted the copulative conjunction. Evelyn gives it with equal exact- 
ness : 

Comfort bring and mirth 

To the ship-bearing seas, corn-bearing earth. 

Friiges, however, means fruits of the earth in general. 

B. I. 5—25. LUCRETIUS. 3 

living creature is conceived, and, springing forth, hails the 
light of the sun.* Thee, O goddess, thee the winds flee ; be- 
fore thee, and thy approach, the clouds of heaven disperse; for 
thee the variegated earth ^ puts forth ^ her fragrant flowers; 
on thee the waters of ocean smile, and the calmed heaven 
beams with eff'ulgent'* light. For, as soon as the vernal face 
of day ^ is unveiled, and the genial gale of Favonius exerts 
its power unconfined, the birds of the air first, O goddess, 
testify of thee and thy coming, smitten in heart by thy influ- 
ence. Next, the wild herds bound over the joyous pastures, 
and swim across the rapid streams. So all kinds of living 
creatures, captivated by thy charms and thy allurements, 
eagerly follow thee whithersoever thou proceedest to lead 
them. In fine, throughout seas, and mountains, and whelming 
rivers,^ and the leafy abodes of birds, and verdant plains, 
thou, infusing balmy love into the breasts of all, causest them 
eagerly to propagate their races after their kind. 

Since thou alone dost govern'^ all things in nature, neither 
does any thing without thee spring into the ethereal realms 
of light, nor any thing become gladsome or lovely ; I desire 
thee to be my associate^ in this my song, which I am essaying 

* Hails the light of the sun*] Ver. 5. Visitque — lumitia solis. " Ex- 
oritur, prodit in lucem, hac lucis usura frui incipit." Lambimis. 

^ Variegated earth.] Ver. 7. Dcedala tellus. This is the exact sig- 
nification of the word. " Why the earth is called Dcsdala by Lu- 
cretius, as well as Minerva by Enniiis, and Circe by Virgil, from 
'variety of objects and contrivances, it is easy to understand, since 
SaiSaXktiv, in Greek, signifies to vary." Festus, 

^ Puts forth.] Ver. 7. Subtnittit. '' Submittere " is "de sub mit- 
tere," says Faber, and so says Creech, whom Wakefield follows; 
interpreting " sends from her lap, causes to spring de sub solo, from 
underneath the ground." 

* Effulgent.] Ver. 9. Diffuse. We have the same phrase, iii. 22, 
^ther Integer et large diffusa hcmine ridet. 

' Vernal face of day.] Ver- 10. Species — ver7ia diet. The same as 
the /ace of vernal day ; i. e. when the spring has arrived. Species for 
miltus, or aspect. Comp. iv. 243. 

* Whelming rivers.] Ver. 18. Fluviosque rapaces . Able to carry 
away rocks, trees, and other substances; of resistless strength. 
Virgil borrows the expression, Geo. iii. 142, " Fluviosque innare 

' Since thou alone dost govern.] Ver. 22. Qua q^ioniam — sola 
gtibernas. Literally, who, since thou alone governest. To avoid stiffness, 
I have often rendered the relative pronoun in this way. 

' I desire thee to be my associate.] Ver. 25. Te sociam studeo esse. 

B 2 

4 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 26—38. 

to compose on the nature of things,^ for the instruction of 
my friend Memmius,^ wliom thou, O goddess, hast willed at all 
times to excel, graced with every gift. The more therefore do 
thou, goddess, bestow on my words an immortal charm. 
Cause the fierce pursuits of war meanwhile to cease, being 
lulled to rest throughout all seas and lands. For thou alone 
canst bless mortals with tranquil peace ; since Mars, the lord 
of arms, who controls the cruel tasks of war, often flings ^ 
himself upon thy lap, vanquished by the eternal wound of 
love ;■* and thus looking up, his graceful neck^ thrown back, 
he feasts his eager eyes with love, gazing intently on thee, 
O goddess, and his breath, as he reclines, hangs on thy 

It may seem absurd that divine assistance should he invoked by an 
Epicurean, who thinks that the gods take jio interest in human af- 
fairs; but it is to be considered that Lucretius here writes in the 
character of a poet, not of a philosopher. Faher. 

' Nature OF THINGS.] Ver. 26. BerumnaUira. By this expression 
Lucretius intends not merely the objects of what we call the ma- 
terial universe, but all that concerns man and the world in which he 
dwells. His full meaning is shown in iii. 1085, where, speaking of 
the anxieties of mankind, and their ignorance of the cause of them, 
he says, that if this cause were at all surmised, each, in preference 
to all other pursuits, would study naturam cognoscere rerum ; that he 
might by that means understand how little is to be feared after 
death, and might become one who, as Virgil expresses it, 

metus omnes et inexorabile fatum 

Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari. 

* Memmius.] Ver. 27. Memmiadce nostra. Properly the son of 
Memmius; or one of the J/emwirtrfts, or family of Memmius. Lam- 
hinus thinks him the C. Memmius Gemellus, to whom Cicero ad- 
dresses some letters in the thirteenth book of his Epist. ad Fam. 
See the Life of Lucretius prefixed to this translation. 

^ Since Mars — who controls — often flings, &c.] Ver. 33. Qvc- 
niam belli fera mcenera Mavors Armipotens regit, in gremiuin qui seepe 
tuum se, <^c. The order of the words in the translation is, for the 
sake of ease, varied a little from the original, which, if exactly given, 
would stand thus : Since Mars — controls the cruel tasks of war, who often 
Hings himself, &c, 

* Eternal wound of love.] Ver. 35. A^terno vuhiere anioris. Virgil 
borrows this expression : Cum Juno, reternum servans sub pectore 
vulnus, lEn. i. 36. And Pope has taken it for his Messiah: "And 
hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound." 

^ Graceful neck.] Ver. 37. Tereti cervice. I can find no better 
single epithet than tliis. Among the Latins the word teres included 
the ideas of length, roundness, and smoothness. Hor. Od. ii. 4, 21. 
Brachia et vultum teretesque suras Integer laudo. 

«. I. 39-53. LUCRETIUS. 5 

lips. Bending over him, O goddess, as he reposes, to embrace 
him ' with thy sacred person, pour from thy h'ps sweet con- 
verse, entreating unruffled peace, illustrious divinity, for tht/ 
Romans. For neither can we pursue our task^ with tranquil 
mind, in this untranquil time^ of our country ; nor can the 
illustrious scion of Memmius, at such a crisis, desert the com- 
mon interest. 

For what remains,'' lend me, O Memmius, thy unprejudiced 
ears,^ and apply thyself, released from cares, to the investiga- 
tion of truth, and leave not, as things despised, my offerings 
arranged for thee with faithful zeal, before they are under- 
stood. For I shall proceed to discourse to thee of the whole 
system^ of heaven and the gods, and unfold to thee the first 
principles of all things,'^ from which nature produces, developes, 
and sustains all, and into which she again resolves them at 
their dissolution :^ these, in explaining our subject, we are 
accustomed to call matter, and the generative bodies of things, 

' Bending over him — as he reposes, to embrace him.] Ver. 39. 
Hunc recubantem — circumfusa super. Literally, poured round above him 
reclining. To make readable English, I was obliged to amplify a 

' Pursue our task.] Ver. 42. Agere hoc. " Hoc ipsum quod sus- 
cepimus, attentfe et summa cura agere." Lambirius. So also Faber. 
Comp. iv. 970. 

' Tranquil mind, in this untranquil time.] Ver. 42. Tempore iniquo 
— cequo animo. I have endeavoured to preserve a resemblance to the 

* For what remains.] Ver. 45. Quod superest. " He calls for his 
friend's attention. By quod superest, it is to be observed, he means 
quod reliquum est. He often uses the same expression. Thus lib. ii. 
39, Quod superest, animo quoque nil prodesse putandum. And vi. 
998, Quod superest, facilfe hinc ratio reddetur, S^c." Lambinus. Lu- 
cretius sometim2s, however, uses quod superest in the sense ot prceterea 
or denique. 

* Unprejudiced ears.] Ver. 45. Vacuus aures. Free alike from 
business and from prejudice. 

® Thewholesystem.J Ver. 49. ^■timmAratione. "jTotanatura." Creech. 

' First principles of all thinsis-] Ver. 50. Rerum primordia. "Re- 
rum pi'incipia." Lambinus. Lucretius uses primordia and pri?icipia 
indifferently, (Forb. ad iii. 263,) for the original atoms, or primary par- 
ticles of all things. Modern chymists use the term ultimate particles. 

' She again resolves them a^ their dissolution.] Ver. 52. Natura 
perempta resolvat. That is, res p^remptas, as Lambinus, Faber, and 
Creech unanimously interpret. Lucretius changes the gender to 
the neuter, after having just before used res, which creates some 

6 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 54—69. 

and to desinjnate as the seeds of all things, and to term them 
primary bodies, because from them as primary all things are 

[For the whole nature of the gods* must necessarily, of 
itself, enjoy immortality in absolute repose, separated, and 
far removed, from our affairs ; for, exempt from all pain, 
exempt from perils, all-sufficient in its own resources, 
and needing nothing from us, it is neither propitiated by ser- 
vices /ro/« the good, nor affected with anger against the had.'^ 

When the life of men ^ lay foully grovelling before our eyes, 
crushed beneath.the weight of a Religion,^ who displayed her 
head from the regions of the sky, lowering over mortals with 
terrible aspect, a man of Greece* was the first that dared 
to raise mortal eyes against her, and first to make a stand 
against her. Him neither tales of gods,^ nor thunderbolts, nor 

' For the whole nature of the gods, <5re.] Ver. 57. The passaf!:e en- 
closed in brackets is considered by Faber, Bentiey, Wakefield, and 
others, to be out of place in the original. It occurs again ii. 645, 
whence Isaac Vossius thinks it was transferred to this place, by some 
critic who wished to show that Lucretius was at variance with himself, 
in invoking divine assistance, and yet excluding the gods from all 
concern with mortals. If it were so, the critic probably placed it in 
the margin, from wliich it crept into the text. Lachmann, the last 
editor, has struck it out. See note on ver 25. 

* When the life of men, lfc.'\ Ver. 63. " The terrible picture 
which Lucretius has drawn of Religion, in order to display the 
magnanimity of his philosophical hero in opposing her, is thought 
to be designed with great boldness and spirit." Burke on the 
Sublime and BeaiUiful, sub fn. But, as Burke indicates, the terror 
of the picture is produced, not by exactly portraying the features 
of the phantom, but by leaving them obscure and undefined. It is 
a picture of the same class as that of the spirit in Job : " A spirit 
passed before my face; — it stood still, but I could not discern the 
form thereof: " or as that of Death in Milton: " If shape it might 
be call'd, that shape had none Distinguishable." 

' Religion.] Ver. 61'. Religione. Evelyn, Drummond, Good, 
and the anonymous translator of the First Book, as well as Coutures, 
concur in rendering this word by Superstition. But this is wrong; 
for neither Epicurus nor Lucretius attacked the belief in the gods, 
and in punishments after death, as a Superstition, but as a Religion. 
It is a Superstition to us, but it was a Religion to men of those days. 
Accordingly Marchetti, Creech, ar i Busbj' have very properly 
adopted the term Religion in their ■< <frsions. 

* A man of Greece.] Ver. 66- Grains homo. E|)icurus. 

» Tales of gods.] Ver. 69. Fama dcum. " De diis fabulae." 
Creech. The reader will find in Wakefield's edition /omo deUrn, from 

B. t. 70-93.. LUCRETIUS. 7 

heaven itself with its threatening roar, repressed, but roused 
the more the active energy of his soul, so that he should de 
sire to be the first to break the close bars of nature's portals. 
Accordingly the vivid force of his intellect prevailed, and pro- 
ceeded far beyond the flaming battlements ' of the world, and 
in mind and thought traversed the whole immensity of space ; 
lience triumphant, he declares to us what can arise info being, 
and what can not ; in fine, in what way the powers of all things 
are limited, and a deeply-fixed boundary assigned to each. 
By which means Religion, brought down under our feet, is 
bruised in turn ; and his victory ^ sets us on a level with 

In treating of these subjects, I fear thou mayest haply 
think that thou art entering on forbidden elements of phi- 
losophy, and commencing a course of crime. Whereas, 
on the contrary, that much-extolled Religion * has too fre- 
quently given birth to criminal and impious deeds ; as when 
at Aulis the chosen leaders of the Greeks, the chief of men, 
foully stained the altar of the virgin Trivia with the blood 
of Iphigenia. When the fillet, clasping her virgin tresses, drop- 
ped from each cheek in equal length, and she saw her sire stand 
sorrowing before the altars, and the attendant priests, close 
by him,'' concealing the knife, and her countrymen shedding 
tears at the sight of her, she, dumb with fear, dropping 

a conjecture of Bentley's, which lo Wakefield appeared egregia, and 
which Lachmann has adopted. I must say that 1 think the old/awa 
to be preferred, as being a word of much larger meaning. 

' Beyond tlie flaming battlements, ^c.] Ver. 74. Extra Jlammantia 
mania niundi. "He pass'd the flaming bounds of space and time." 
Orny, Progr. of Poesy. " Not even the whole world is sufficient for 
contemplation and meditation in human intellectual excursion, but 
tlie thoughts often pass beyond the bounds of that whole which sur- 
rounds us. " Longinus, Sect. xxxv. 

- His victory.] " Victoria Epicuri." Lamhinus. 

^ That much-extolled Religion.] Ver. 83. Ilia Beligio. The old 
reading was olim, but ilia seems infinitely better. 

* Close by him.] Ver. 91. Hunc propter. These words may be 
imderstood as meaning either near Agamemnon, or on account of Aga- 
memnon. Evelyn and Creech prefer the latter sense ; but Faber, 
Preiger, and Good adopt the former, which appears to me the more 
reasonable of the two. It seems natural to conceive Iphigenia, wlio 
is the chief personage, as simply contemplating the priests conceal- 
ing their knives near her father, not as considering whether they 
•«'ere concealing them on account of li(;r father or not. 

8 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 94-118. 

on her knees, sank to the earth ; nor could it, at such a 
time, avail the hapless maiden that she had been the first to 
bless the king with the name of father. For, raised by the 
hands of men, and trembling, she was led to the altar ; not 
that, the solemn service of sacrifice being performed, she might 
be accompanied with the loud bridal hymn ; but spotless, 
though stained, she might, even in her wedding prime, fall a 
sad victim by her father's immolating hand, that a successful 
and fortunate voyage might be granted to the fleet. To such 
evils could Religion persuade mankind! 

Wilt thou too, overcome by the frightful tales of bards, 
ever seek to turn away from me ? Surely not ; for doubt- 
less I, even now, could invent ' for thee many dreams, 
which might disturb the tenor of thy life, and confound all 
thy enjoyments with terror. And with reason too under 
the present system of belief; for did men but know that 
there was a fixed limit to their woes, they would be able, 
in some measure, to defy the religious fictions and menaces 
of the poets ; but now, since we must fear eternal pun- 
ishment at death, there is no mode, no means, of resisting 
them. For men know not what the nature of the soul is ; 
whether it is engendered with us, or whether, on the con- 
trary, it is infused into us at our birth,^ whether it perishes 
with us, dissolved by death, or whether it haunts the gloomy 
shades and vast pools of Orcus, or whether, by divine in- 
fluence, it infuses itself into other animals, as our Ennius* 

' I, even now, could invent.] Ver. 105. I, as a poet, could, like 
other poets, invent abundance of tales, magnifying the wrath of the 
gods, and inculcating the probabilitj' of Tartarean punishments for 
errors committed in this world ; tales that would haunt thy imagin- 
ation, disturb thy peace of mind, and contribute to make thee the 
slave of anxiety and perplexity. 

^ Is infused into us at our birth.] Ver. 114. Nascentibus insinu- 
etiir. The same questions have been asked by other philoso- 
phers since Lucretius. "Relying on our acquired knowledge," 
says Voltaire, '* we venture to discuss the question whether the soul 
is created before us? whether it comes from nothing into our 
bodies? At what age it placed itself within us? .... Whe- 
ther, after animating us for a few moments, its essence is to live 
after us in eternity? . . These questions have an appearance 

of 8ul)limity ; what are they but the questions of men born blind, 
discussing the nature of light?" See more on this subject, iii. 670^ 

' Ennius.n Ver. 118. He was a Pythagorean, and thought that the 

B. 1. 119—144. LUCRETIUS. 9 

sung, who first brought from pleasant Helicon a crown of 
never-fading leaf, which should be distinguished in fame 
throughout the Italian tribes of men ; though in addition, how- 
ever, Ennius, setting it forth in deathless song, declares that 
there are temples of Acheron, whither neither our souls nor 
our bodies penetrate, but only phantoms, strangely pale, from 
amongst whom he relates that the apparition of undying Ho- 
mer, rising up before him, began to pour forth briny tears, 
and to expound in words the nature of things. 

Wherefore with reason then, not only an inquiry concerning 
celestial affairs is to be accui-ately made by us, {as by what 
means the courses of the sun and moon are effected, and by 
what influence all things individually are directed upon the 
earth,) but especially also we must consider, with scrutinizing 
examination,^ of what the soul and the nature of the mind 
consist, and what it is, which, haunting us, sometimes when 
awake, and sometimes when overcome by disease or buried 
in sleep, terrifies the mind ; so that we seem to behold and to 
hear speaking before us, those whose bones, after death is 
passed, the earth embraces. 

Nor does it escape my consideration, tliat it is difficult to 
explain in Latin vei'se the profound discoveries of the Greeks, 
especially since we must treat of much in novel words, on 
account of the poverty of our language, and the novelty of 
the subjects. But yet thy virtues, and the expected pleasure 
of thy sweet friendship, prompt me to endure any labour 
whatsoever, and induce me to out-watch the clear cold 
nights, 2 weighing with what words, with what possible 

soul of Homer had passed into himself. Pers. Sat. vi. 10. Cicero al- 
ludes to the appearance of the shade of Homer to him, Quaest. Acad. 
iv. 16. 

' Scrutinizing examination.] Ver. 131. Ratione sagaci. Lucretius 
is fond of this word. " Sagaces propria canes dicuntur, quia inest 
in eis vis odorandi eximia." Lambintis. The derivation is from 
Bagire, to perceive acutely. 

"^ Clear eoW nights.] Ver. HS. The original is ox\\y nodes serenas. 
The critics are all in dovibt what sort of nights to understand. Mu- 
retus (Var. Lect. xviii. 13) thinks they are sitmmer nights. Wake- 
field, with Creech, supposes that they are merely tranquil nights, 
free from noise, and suitable for study. But seremis must surely 
have relation to tlie state of the atmosphere, and I think that Evelyn 
had a right notion of the word when he gave the passage thus : 

But yet thy worth, and the felicity 

10 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 145-160, 

verse,' I may succeed in displaying to thy raind those cleat 
^tAjJ lights, by which thou mayest be able to gain a thorough in- 

1^ sight into these abstruse subjects. ^ 

^ Tliis terror and darkness of the mind, therefore, it Ts 
^-M'-^not the rays of the sun, or the bright shafts of day,^ that must 
dispel, but reason and the contemplation of nature;^ of 
which our first principle shall hence take its commence- 

NOTHING. For thus it is that fear restrains all men, because 
they observe many things effected on the earth and in 
heaven, of which effects they can by no means see the 
causes, and therefore think that they are wrought by a divine 
power. For which reasons, when we shall have clearly seen 


then have a more accurate perception of that of which we are 
in search, and shall understand whence each individual thing 
is generated, and how all things are done without the agency 
of the gods. 

For if things came forth from nothing,^ every kind of thing 

I find in thy sweet friendship, me persuade 
Cold nights to Avatch — 
I have therefoi-e added Evelyn's cold to Lucretius's clear. 

' With what possible verse.] Ver. 144. Quo carmine demum. 
With what verse at length. 

2 Bright shafts of day.] Ver. 148. Lucida tela diet. " Rays of 
the sun. Thus the Greeks, ftkXr) ijeXioio." Faber. Ausoniiis has bor- 
rowed the phrase, Luciferique pavent letalia tela diei. Mosell. 260. 
Mason, also, in his English Garden, ii. 151, " Bright darts of day." 

' Contemplation of nature.] Ver. 149. NaturcB species. " Species, 
r) Bewpia, t) ^ia, that is, contemplation." Lambitius. So Faber. Wake- 
field would rather make \i form or image; but who will second 
him ? 

* Divinely.] Ver. 151. Divinittis. That is, divino numine, as he 
has it in ver. 155. He is anxious to show, that however things are 
produced, the gods have nothing to do with their production. 

' Nothing can be produced from nothing.] Ver. 156. Nil posse 
creari de nihilo. It is ia be observed that the word creo was never used 
among the Latin writers of the better ages in the sense in which 
we use the word create, that is, to make out of nothing. In all but 
Christian theological writers it means to produce one thing from 
another. Gibbon has a remark to this effect in one of his notes. 

* If things came forth from nothing, &^.] Ver. 160. Nam si dt 
nihilo fierent, &c. If things could come from nothing, then, wher- 
ever, in the midst of things, there might be nothing existent, some- 

hing mi^ht thence arise; wherever there ndght be a vacuum, (for 

B. I. 161— 186. LUCRETIUS. IJ. 

might be produced from all things ; nothing would require 
seed. In the first place, men might spring from the sea ; the 
scaly tribe, and birds, might spring from the earth ; herds, 
and other cattle, might burst from the sky ; the culti- 
vated fields, as well as the deserts, might contain every kind 
of wild animal, without any settled law o/" production : nor 
would the same fruits be constant to the same trees, but would 
be changed ; and all trees might bear all kinds of fruit. Since, 
when there should not be generative elements for each pro- 
duction, how could a certain parent-producer remain invariable 
for all individual things ? But now, because all things are 
severally produced from certain seeds, each is produced, and 
comes forth into the regions of light, from that spot in which 
the matter, and first elements of each, subsist. And for this 
cause all things cannot be produced from all, inasmuch as there 
are distinct and peculiar faculties in certain substances. 

Besides, why do we see the rose put forth in spring,' corn 
in summer heat, and vines under the influence of autumn, if 
it he not because, when the determinate seeds of things have 
united together at their proper time, whatever is produced 
appears while the seasons are favourable, and ivhile the 
vigorous earth securely brings forth her tender productions 
into the regions of light. But if these were generated 
from nothing, they might arise suddenly at indefinite periods, 
and at unsuitable seasons of the year, inasmuch as there would 
be no original elements, which might be restrained from a 
generative combination at a«y season, however inconvenient. 

Nor, moreover, would there be need of time for the coming 
together of seed^ for the growth of things, if they could grow 

which he afterwards arp;iies,) something might spring up from that 
vacmtm. Should there be a vacuum in the sea, a man might spring 
from it; should there be a vacuum in the air, a tree might flourish 
out of it. Seed, or originating particles, would be quite superfluous ; 
simple vacant space, the abode of non-entity, would suffice to pro- 
duce abundance of entities. The rest of the parat;raph follows of 
course. This is his frst argument on this head. I have translated 
fierent " came forth," as being more suitable to what follows. 

' The rose put forth in spring.] Ver. 175. This is his second 
argument — from time. If things may spring up in any place from 
nothing, why should they not also spring up at any time from no- 
thin ? 

^ For the coming together of seed.] Ver. 185. His third argu- 

12 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 187—210. 

out of nothing. For young men might on a sudden be formed 
from puny infants, and groves, springing up unexpectedly, 
miglit dart forth from the earth ; of wliich things it is plain 
that none happen, since all things grow gradually, as is fitting, 
from unvarying atoms, and, as they grow, preserve their kind, 
so tliat you may understand that all tilings individually are 
enlarged and nourished from their own specific matter. 

Add to this, tliat the earth cannot furnisli her cheering 
fruits without certain rains • in the year ; nor, moreover, 
can tlie nature of animals, if kept from food, propagate their 
kind, and sustain life ; so that you may rather deem that 
many elements are common to many things, (as we see letters 
common to many words,) than that any thing can exist with- 
out its proper elements. 

Still further, why could not nature produce men of such ^ a 
size that they might ford the sea on foot,^ and rend great moun- 
tains with their hands, and outlast in existence many ages of 
human life, if it he not because certain matter has been assigned 
tor producing certain things, from which matter it is fixed what 
can or cannot arise ? It must be admitted therefore, that no- 
thing can be made from nothing, since things have need of 
seed, fi'om which all individually being produced, may be 
brouglit forth into the gentle air of heaven. 

Lastly, since we observe that cultivated places excel* the 
uncultivated, and yield to our hands better fruits, we may see 

ment — from natural growth. If things might grow up from nothing, 
why might they not be enlarged, and enlarged suddenly, from 

' Without certain rains, 4rc.] Ver. 193. His fonrth argument — from 
the necessity of certain bodies for the nutriment of others. If things can- 
not even grow, after they had arisen, without the presence of cer- 
tain other matter, who, he asks, can be so foolish as to believe that 
they arose at first from no matter at all? 

* Produce men of such, iSfc.] Ver. 200. His Jif/h argument — from 
the definite size of animals, and other natural productions. If, for 
instance, men might spring from nothing, why should they not 
spring of a larger size from nothing ? If they could grow at all from 
nothing, wliy should they not grow to any extent whatever from 
nothing ? 

' Ford the sea on foot.] Ver. 201. Per vada. " Like Polyphemus, 
Virg. tEh. iii. 665, Graditurque per sequor jam medium, nee dum 
fluctuslatera ardua tinxit." Lamhinus. 

* Cultivated places excel, Ac] Ver. 209. Yih sixth argument — from 
the improvement of natural productions. If things sprung frcm no- 

B. I. 211—232. LUCRETIUS. 13 

that there are in the ground the primitive elements of things, 
which we, in turning the fertile glebe witli the ploughshare, 
and subjugating the soil of the earth, force into birth. But 
were there no such seeds, you might see things severally 
grow np and become much better of their own accord with- 
out our labour. 

Add, too,' that nature resolves each thing into its own 
constituent elements, and does not reduce any thing to 


For if any thing were perishable in all its parts, q\^\j 
thing might then dissolve, being snatched suddenly from be- 
fore our eyes ; for there would be no need of force to pro- 
luce a separation of its parts, and break their connexion. 
Whereas now, since all things individually consist of eternal 
seed, nature does not suffer the destruction of any thing to 
be seen, until such power assail them as to sever them with a 
blow, or penetrate inwardly through the vacant spaces, and 
dissolve the parts. 

Besides, if time utterly destroys^ whatever things it removes 
through length of age, consuming all their constituent matter, 
whence does Venus restore to the light of life the race of 
animals according to their kinds ? Whence does the varie- 
gated earth nourish and develops them, when restored, af- 
fording them sustenance according to their kinds ? Whence do 
pure fountains, and eternal rivers Jiowing from afar, supply the 
sea?^ Whence does the aether feed the stars? For infinite 

thing, why might they not improve themselves from nothing, and 
why might we not leave them to do so ? 

' Add, too, <S^c.] Ver. 214. Having proved that nothing is 
generated from nothing, he now proceeds to prove that 7iothing is 
reduced to nothing. To this end his J!rst argumetit is, that if things 
could be reduced or resolved into nothing, there would probably be 
instances seen of things falling away and vanishing suddeidy into 
annihilation, instead of all things decaying gradually into their ele- 
ments as they do at present. 

^ Besides, if time utterly destroys, *rc.l Ver. 226. T\\e second argw 
ment. Things decay and are renovated ; but how could this reno- 
vation take place, unless there were imperishable material atoms 
from which they might be recruited? 

^ Supply the sea?] Ver. 232. Mare — suppeditant. " Lambinus and 
Parens take suppeditant absolutely, in the sense of sttppetunt or }}arata 
sunt; but it is better to take it actively, in the sense of supplant or 
aubministrant." Creech. Creech's interpretation is doubtless right t 
the other is not in accordance with the drift of the paragraph. 

1-1 LUCRETIUS. E. I. 233— 256. 

time already past, and length of days, ought to have con- 
sumed all tilings which are of mortal consistence: but if those 
elements, of which this sum of things consists and is renewed, 
have existed through that long space, and that past duration 
of time, they are assuredly endowed with an immortal nature. 
Things therefore cannot return to nothing. 

Further, the same force' and cause might destroy all things 
indiscriminately, unless an eternal matter held them more or 
less bound by mutual connexion. For a mere touch, indeed, 
would be a sufficient cause of destruction, supposing that there 
were no parts of eternal consistence, hnt all perishable, the 
union of which any force might dissolve.^ But now, because 
various connexions of elements unite together, and matter is 
eternal, things continue of unimpaired consistence, until some 
force of sufficient sti'ength be found to assail them, proportioned 
to the texture of each. No thing, therefore, relapses into non- 
existence, but all things at dissolution return to the first 
principles of matter. 

Lastly, you may say, perhaps, the showers of rain perish,^ 
when Father ^ther has poured them down into the lap of 
Mother Earth. But it is not so ; for hence the smiling fruits 
arise, and the branches become verdant on the trees ; the trees 
themselves increase, and are weighed down with produce. 
Hence, moreover, is nourished the race of man, and that of 
beasts ; hence we see joyous cities abound with youth,'* and 

' Further, the same force, Sfc-] Ver. 239. 'The third argument. Why 
does not any one force destroy all substances, iniless because they 
consist of different elementary atoms, intimately interwoven, and 
those atoms severally indestructible? Were not the atoms imperislv 
able, the same force that dissolves their combination might utterlj 
destroy them. 

' Might dissolve.] Ver. 244. Deheretdissolvere. Would necessarily 
have the power of dissolving. 

' The showers of rain perish, ifc] Ver. 251. The fourth argument. 
Perhaps you incline to think that things which vanish, as showers 
of rain, from tlie face of the earth, are annihilated; but to think 
thus would be folly ; for the moisture of these showers, dispersed 
through the ground, assists to produce corn, and all manner of 
fruits. So it is with other things ; the atoms of that which is dis- 
solved increase the substance and promote the growth of that which 
is rising into being. 

' Joyous cities abound with youth.] Ver. 256. Lwtas urbes puerum 
finrere videmus. " Florere is ahundare ; with which acceptation of tlie 
word the genitive case suits extremely well." Wakejield. 

B. I. 257-282. LUCRETIUS. 1-^ 

the leafy woods resound on every side with newly-fledged 
birds ; hence the weary cattle, sleek in tlie rich pastures, re- 
pose their bodies, and the white milky liquor flows from their 
distended udders ; hence the new offspring gambol sportive, 
with tottering limbs, over the tender grass, their youthful 
hearts exhilarated with pure milk.* Things, therefore, do not 
utterly perish, which seem to do so, since Nature recruits one 
thing from another, nor suffers any thing to be produced, 
unless its production be furthered by the death of another. 

Attend, now, fit rther:^ since I have shown that things can- 
not be produced from nothing, and also that, when produced, 
thei/ camiot return to nothing, yet, lest haply thou shouldst 
begin to distrust my words, because the primary particles of 
things cannot be discerned by the eye, hear, in addition, what 
substances thou thyself must necessarily confess to exist, al- 
though impossible to be seen. 

In the first place, the force of the wind, when excited, 
lashes the sea, agitates tlie tall ships, and scatters the clouds ; 
at times, sweeping over t/ie earth with an impetuous hurricane, 
it strews the plains with huge trees, and harasses the moun- 
tain-tops with forest-rending blasts ; so violently does the deep 
chafe with fierce roar and rage with menacing murmur. The 
winds, then, are invisible bodies, which sweep the sea, the land, 
the clouds of heaven, and, agitating them, carry them along with 
a sudden tornado. Not otherwise do they rush forth, and 
spread destruction, than as when a body of liquid water ^ is 

' Tlieir youthful hearts exhilarated with pure milk.] Ver. 2G2. 
Lacte novo teneras percussa 7iovellas. " Versus plan^ admirabilis," 
says Faber. So thinks Good, and translates it thus : Each little heart 
Quivering beneath the genuine ttectar quaff'd. Why he chose to say 
beneath the nectar, I do not understand. The anonymous translator 
has it better: 

From their dams as the rich draughts they drain, 

Gladness and health flow fast through every vein. 

* Attend, now, further : ire.] He now proceeds to show tliat there 
are atoms, the primary particles of all things, so small as to be im- 
perceptible to our senses; and lest this should be doubted, he asks 
why such invisible particles should not exist as well as the sub- 
stance of the wind, and of odours, and of other matters, which, 
though we cannot see them, we must yet acknowledge to have ex- 
istence? This argument extends to Ver. 329. 

' A body of liquid water.] Ver. 282. Mollis aquce natura. Mol' 

'fi LUCIIETIUS. B. I. 283-3U 

borne filong in an overwliehning stream, wliicli a vast tor- 
rent ' from tlie lofty mountains swells with large rain-floods, 
dashing together fragments of woods and entire groves ; nor 
can the strong bridges sustain the sudden force of the sweep- 
ing water, with such overwhelming violence does the river, 
turbid with copious rain, rush against the opjwsing mounds ; 
it scatters ruin with a mighty uproar, and rolls huge rocks 
under its waters ; it rushes on triumphant wheresoever any 
thing opposes its waves. Thus, therefore, must the blasts of 
the wind also be borne along ; which (when, like a mightv 
flood, they have bent their force in any direction) drive a) J 
tilings before them, and overthrow them witli repeated as- 
saults, and sometimes catch them up in a writhing vortex 
and rapidly bear them oflP in a whirling hurricane. Where- 
fore, I repeat, the winds are substances, though invisible, since 
in their effects, and modes of operation,'^ tliey are found to 
rival mighty rivers, which are of manifest bodily substance. 

Moreover we perceive various odours of objects, and yet 
never see them appi'oaching our nostrils. Nor do we behold 
violent heat, or distinguish cold Avith our eyes ; nor are we 
in the habit of viewing sounds ; all which things, however, 
must of necessity consist of a corporeal nature, since they have 
the power of striking the senses : for nothing, except 


Further, gai'ments, when suspended upon a shore on which 
waves are broken, grow moist ; the same, when spread out in 
the sun, become dry ; yet neither has it been observed how 
the moisture of the water settled in them, nor, on the other 
hand, how it escaped under the influence of the heat. The 

Us for liquid or fluid, as the Delphin editor justly observes. Comp. 
ii. 375. Virg. ^n. v. 817. 

' Which a vast torrent, (5rc. ] Ver. 283. Flumine abttndanti, quern 
— magnus decursus aquai. The quern is the reading from certain 
codices of Wakefield, who says that Lucretius, in using the mascu- 
line gender, had in his mind the more general v;or A fluvius. By such 
methods any thing apparently inexplicable may be explained. The 
quern should eitlu'v be quod, as Lanibinus and Havercamp have it, 
or we must suppose Lucretius to have MSQAflumen in the masculine 

- Modes of operatio7i.] Ver. 297. Moribus. Metaphorically, as if 
they were human beings. 

B. I. 312-33.5. LUCRETIUS. 17 

moisture, therefore, is dispersed into minute particles, which 
our eyes can by no means perceive. 

Besides, in the course of many revolutions of the sun,' a 
ring upon the finger is made somewhat thinner by wearing 
it; the fall of the drop from the eaves hollows a stone ; the 
crooked share of the plough, though made of iron, impercep- 
tibly decreases in the fields ; even the stone pavements of the 
streets we see worn by the feet of the multitude ; and the 
brazen statues, ichich stand near the gates, show their right 
hands made smaller by the touch of people frequently saluting 
them, and passing by. These objects, therefore, after they 
have been worn, we observe to become diminished ; but what 
particles take their departure on each particular occasion, 
jealous nature has withheld from us the faculty of seeing.^ 

Lastly, whatever substances time and nature add little by 
little to objects, obliging them to increase gradually, those 
substances no acuteness of vision, however earnestly exerted, 
can perceive ; nor, moreover, whatever substances waste 
away through age and decay ; nor can you discern what 
the rocks, which overhang the sea, and are eaten by the 
corroding salt^ of the ocea?i, lose every time that they are 
washed by the waves. Nature, therefore, carries on her 
operations by imperceptible particles. 

Nor, however,'* ^ are all things held enclosed by corporeal 
substance ; for there is a void in things ; a truth which it 
will be useful for you, in reference to many points, to know ; 
and which will prevent you from wandering in doubt, and from 
perpetually inquiring about the entire of things, and from 
being distrustful of my words. Wherefore, Tsay, there is space 
INTANGIBLE, EMPTY, and VACANT. If this Were not the case, 

 Many revolutions of the sun.] Ver. 312. Mtiltis soHs redeuntibus 
annis. " Soils anni are anni so lares, solar years." Havercamp. 

''■ Faculty of seeing.] Ver. 322. Speciem videndi " Facultatem." 

' Corroding salt.] Ver. 327. Vesco sale, " Lucretius has used 
vescus for edax or consutning, when he says, nee, mare qua impendent, 
vesco sale saxa peresa. ' ' Festus. 

* Nor, however.] Ver. 330. By an error of the press, these words 
are not made to commence a new paragraph in Forbiger's edition ; 
which they do in Wakefield's, and all other editions. 

* lb. He now proceeds to demonstrate that there is a vacuum in 
things; space empty and intangible. His arguments seem suffi- 
ciently intelligible to require no exposition. 


V8 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 336-365. 

things could by no means be moved ; for that which is the 
quality of body, namely, to obstruct and to oppose, would be 
present at all times, and would he ea;er<erf against all bodies; no- 
thing, therefore, would be able to move forward, since nothing 
would begin to giveway. But now, throughout the sea and land 
and heights of heaven, we see many things moved before our 
eyes in various ways and by various means, which, if there 
were no void, would not so much want their active motion, as 
being deprived of it, as they would, properly speaking, never 
by any means have been produced at all ; ' since matter, 
crowded together on all sides, would have remained at rest, 
and have been unable to act. 

Besides, although some things may be regarded as solid, 
yet you may, for the following reasons, perceive them to be 
of a porous consistence. In rocks and caves, the liquid mois- 
ture of the waters penetrates their siibstance, and all parts 
weep, as it were, with abundant drops ; food distributes itself 
through the whole of the body in animals ; the groves in- 
crease, and yield their fruits in their season, because nourish- 
ment is diffused through the whole of the trees, even from 
the lowest roots, over all the trunks and branches ; voices 
pass through the walls, and fly across the closed apartments 
of houses ; keen frost ^ penetrates to the very marrow of our 
bones ; which kind of effects, unless there were void spaces in 
bodies, where the several particles might pass, you would never 
by any means observe to take place. 

Lastly, why do we see some things exceed other things in 
weight, though of no greater shape and bulk'? For, if there 
is just as much substance in a ball of wool as there is in a 
ball of lead, it is natural that they should weigh the same, 
since it is the property of all bodily substance to press every 
thing downwards ; but the nature of a void, on the contrary, 
continues without weight. That body, therefore, which is equally 

' Would not so much want their active motion, {ns being deprived 
of it,) as they would, properly speakini/, never by any means have 
been produced at all.] Ver. 344. 

Non tarn soUicito motu privata carerent, 
Quam genita oninino nulla ratione fuissent. 
The construction of the English appears awkward, but answers ex- 
actly to the Latin. 

* Frost.] Ver. 356. He considered cold and heat as material and 
ective substances. Comp. ver. 495. 

5. I. 366-398. LUCRETIUS. 19 

large with another, and is evidently lighter, shows plainly that 
it contains a greater portion of vacuity. But the heavier body, 
on the other hand, indicates that there is in it more material 
substance, and that it comprises much less empty space. 

That, therefore, which we are now, by the aid of searching 
argument, investigating, that, namely, which we call void ; 
is doubtless mixed among material substances. 

In considering these matters, I am obliged to anticipate 
that objection which some imagine, lest it should seduce you 
from the truth. They say, for instance, that water yields to 
fishes pushing forwards, and opens liquid passages, since the 
fish leave spaces behind them, into which the yielding waters 
may make a conflux ; so also that other things may be moved 
among themselves, and change their place, although all parts 
of space be full. But this notion, it is evident, has been 
wholly conceived from false reasoning. For in what direc- 
tion, I pray, will fish be able to go forward, if the water shall 
not give them room ? Or in what direction, moreover, will 
the water have power to yield, supposing the fish shall have 
no power to go forward to divide it? Either, therefore, we 
must deny motion to all bodies whatsoever, or we must admit 
that vacuity is more or less inherent in all material substances, 
whence every thing that moves derives the first commence- 
ment of its motion. 

Lastly, if two broad and flat bodies, after having come in- 
to collision, suddenly start asunder, it is clear that air must 
necessarily take possession of all the vacuum which is then 
formed between the bodies. And further, although that air 
may quickly unite to flow into the vacancy, with blasts blowing 
rapidly from all sides, yet the whole space will not be able to be 
filled at once ; for the air must of necessity occupy some part 
first, then another, till in succession all parts be occupied. 

But if any person perchance, when the bodies have started 
asunder, thinks that that separation is thus effected by reason 
that the air condenses itself, he is in error ; for a vacuum is 
then formed between the bodies, which was not there before, 
and the part likewise behind the bodies, which was vacant be- 
fore, is filled ; nor can air be condensed in such a way ; nor, 
even if it could, would it have the power, I think, to draw it- 
self into itself,' and unite its particles together without the aia 

• To draw itself into itself.] Ver. 398. Tpse in se trahere. Lam- 

c 2 

liO LUCRETIUS. B. I. 399—421. 

of a void. I For which reason, although you may long hesitate, 
alleging ma"ny objections, you must nevertheless at last con- 
fess that there is vacuum in bodies. 

I have the ability, moreover, to collect credit for my doc- 
trines,' by adducing many additioiial arguments. But these 
small traces ivhich I have indicated will be sufficient for a sa- 
gacious mind ; traces by which, indeed, you yourself may dis- 
cover others. For as dogs, when they have once lighted upon 
certain tracks on the path, very frequently find by their scent 
the lair of a wild beast that ranges over the mountains, 
though covered over with leaves ; so you yourself will be able, 
in such matters as these, to note, of your own sagacity, one 
principle after another, and to penetrate every dark obscurity, 
and thence to elicit truth. 

But if you shall be slow to assent, Memmius, or if you 
shall at all shrink back from the subject, I can still certainly 
give you the following assurance. My tongue, so agreeable 
to you, will have the power of pouring forth from my well- 
stored breast such copious draughts^ from mighty sources, that 
1 fear lest slow old age may creep over our limbs, and break 
down the gates of life within us, before all the abundance of 
arguments in my verses, concerning any one subject, can 
liave been poured into your ears. But now, that I may re- 
sume my efforts to complete in verse the weaving of the weh 
which I have begun, give me a little more of your attention. 

As it is, therefore, all nature of itself has consisted, and 
consists, of two parts ; for there are bodily substances, and 

binus, Creech, and others, give Ss ipse in se trahere. Wakefield 
])ronounces the .S'e before ipse to be suffarcinatwn, reclamantibus at 
renitentibus multis libris et codicibus. So the readers of Wakefield and 
Forbiger (whom Lachniann follows) must understand se, or suppose 
trahere to be used absolutely. 

' Collect credit for my doctrines.] Ver. 402. 

Multaqiie praeterea tibi possum commemorando 
Argunienta fidem dictis conadere nostris. 
Forbiger and Wakefield leave these lines without any point; Ha- 
vercamp puts a comma after argumenta, as is necessary, to prevent 

2 Such copious draughts.] Ver. 413. '* He signifies that he will 
•^our forth, if necessary, such a profusion of arguments drawn fro".n 
tl'o doctrme of Epicurus, that it is to be feared lest Memmius and 
himself should grow old and die, before IVlemnnus has understood 
tni} one subject or heard it to an end." Lanibitius. 

». 1.422-432. LUCRETIUS. 21 

vficant space, in which these substances are situate, and in 
which they are moved in different directions. For the com- 
mon perception of all men shows that there is corporeal con- 
sistence;' of the existence o/* which, unless the belief shall be 
first firmly established, there will be no principle by reference 
to which we may succeed, by any means whatever, in settling 
the mind with argument concerning matters not obvious to 

To proceed then, if there were no place,^ and no space which 
we call vacant, bodies could not be situated any where, nor 
could at all move any Avhither in different directions ; a fact 
which we have shown to you a little before. 

Besides, there is nothing^ which you can say is separate 
from all bodily substance, and distinct from empty space ; 

* The common perception of all men shows that there is corpo- 
real consistence.] Ver. 423. Corpus etiim per se commimis dedicat esse 
Sensits. The common perception of all men, in all parts of the world, 
in all ages. " This especially Epicurus resolutely maintains, that 
the senses are to be trusted, and never deceive us; and that from 
the senses all knowledge and understanding of all things com- 
mences. So in ver. 694 of this book, Lucretius says it is the senses 
unde omnia credita pendent." Faber. Epicurus establishes the exist- 
ence of corporeal substance in the manner in which Johnson said 
that he refuted the doctrine of Berkeley, by striking his foot against 
a post. This was also the "common sense" method of Reid and 
his disciples ; and which of us all, however we may reason, does 
not act upon it? To Berkeley has been imputed a thousand and a 
thousand times that which he never believed or imagined. 

Lucretius adds, that unless the existence of corporeal substance 
be acknowledged, there will be no principle from which to reason 
on things in general. 

^ To proceed then, if there were no place, 4rc.] Ver. 427. This 
paragraph is to be understood thus : Unless there be space, where 
can bodies be situated? and unless there be somewhere vacuity, how 
can they move? He says he has shown that bodies could not move 
without a vacuum " a little before." See ver. 371, seq. 

^ Besides, there is nothing, <Sfc.] Ver. 431, seq. On this para- 
graph I have to make these observations. In ver. 433, tertia numero, 
1 have omitted the latter word. Ever so diminutive is given for parvo 
denique. Shall be sensible to the touch, is in the original tactus erit, 
Faber explaining tactus to mean tactilitas in a passive sense. See 
ver. 45r'>. Increase the number of bodies, is Corporis augebit numerum, 
■which might be rendered, increase the quantity of body. Lambinus 
and Cit'och, however, read corporum; and I have accordingly pre- 
ferred to put bodies in the plural, and to render the succeeding 
words, iummamque sequetur, " will be ranked in the multitude ojf 

22 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 43S— 462. 

which would, indeed, be as it were a third kind of nature. 
For whatsoever shall exist, must in itself be something, either 
of large bulk, or ever so diminutive, provided it be at all ; 
when, if it shall be sensible to the touch, however light and 
delicate, it will increase the number of bodies, and be ranked 
iu the multitude of them ; but if it shall be intangible, inas- 
much as it cannot hinder in any part any object proceeding to 
pass through it, it then, you may be sui-e, v/ill be the empty 
space which we call a vacuum. 

Moreover, whatsoever shall exist of itself, will either do 
something, or will be obliged to suffer other things acting 
upon it, or Avill sinrpli/ be, so that other things may exist and 
be done in it. But nothing can do or suffer without being 
possessed of bodily substance, nor, moreover, afford place /or 
acting and suffering, unless it be empty and vacant space. No 
third nature, therefore, distinct in itself, besides vacant space 
and material substance, can possibly be left tmdiscovered in 
tiie sum of things ; no third kind of being, which can at any 
time fall under the notice of our senses, or which any one can 
find out by the exercise of his reason. 

For whatsoever other things are said to be,^ you will find 
them to be either necessary adjuncts of these two things, 
or accidents of them. A necessary adjunct is that which can 
never be separated and disjoined /Vow its body Avithout a dis- 
union attended with destruction to that body ; as the weight 
of a stone, the heat of fire, the fluidity of water ; sensibility to 
touch in all bodies, insensibility to touch in empty space. On 
the other hand, such things as slavery, poverty, riches, liberty, 
war, concord, and other things, by the coming or going of 
which the nature of the subject affected remains uninjured, 
these we are accustomed (as is proper) to call accidents. 

Time, likewise, is not an existence in itself, but it is merely 
our understanding that collects from things themselves what 
HAS been done in the past age ; what also is present ; what, 
moreover, may follow afterwards. And it must be owned 

* For whatsoever other things are said to be, iSc] Ver. ■i50. These 
observations about adjuncts, and events or accidents, are sufficiently 
clear to require no comment. The observations about Helen being 
carried off, !^c., are, says Creech, iiwjoe dialecticte, whicli Lucretius 
would not have inserted, but that to oppose the Stoics made it 

B. I. 463-'iR8. LUCRETIUS, 23 

tliat no one has conceived of time existing by itself apart from 
progressive motion and quiet rest. 

Moreover, when writers say that Helen ■yvAS carried off, and 
that the Trojan people were subdued in war, we must take 
care lest, perchance, those writers induce us to admit that 
those events, viz. the abduction of Helen and the subjugation 
of the Trojans, were of themselves ; when time, irrevocably 
past, has carried away those generations of men, of whom 
these transactions were the events or accidents. For what- 
ever shall liave been done, will properly be called an event 
or accident, whether occurring to lands, or to legions ' (that is, 
men) tliemselves. 

Furthermore, if there were not this bodily substance in 
things, nor tliis room and space in which all things severally 
are done, tlie flame lighted up by the love of Helen's beauty, 
spreading through the breast of the Phrygian Paris, would 
never have kindled the famous contests of cruel warfare ; nor 
would the wooden horse have secretly set fire to the citadel 
of the Trojans by a nocturnal delivery of Greeks. So that 
you may plainly see that all transactions whatsoever do not 
CONSIST or EXIST of themselves, as body does, nor are spoken of 
as existing in the same way as a vacuum exists ; but rather i) 
that you may justly call them events or accidents of body, or.'*'- 
of spaceinwhich all transactions are brought to pass. 

Jo^ies^oesidesJ'are'partly original eTemenfs^oitKings, and 
partly those which are formed of a combination of those ele- 
ments. But those which are elements of things, no force can 
break ; for they successfully resist all force by solidity of sub- 
stance ; although, perhaps, it seems difficult to believe that 

' To lands, or to legions.] Ver. 470. 

Namque aliud terris, aliud legionibus ipsis 
Eventum dici poterit, quodquonique erit actum. 
" Whatever things have occurred, you may justly say have happened 
to certain men or to certain lands (for there is no third, besides men 
and things); but you cannot rightly say that those events were; 
time, therefore, to which they belonged, is not; nor is there any 
thing in reruni nattira besides body and space." Wakejicld. 

^ Bodies, besides, are partly original elements, <SiC.] Ver. 486. Hav- 
ing proved that there is nothing that can be said to exist absolutely, 
except body and space ; he proceeds to distinguish body into two 
kinds, simple and compound, and to prove that simple bodj, fr the 
simple primary particles of all substance, must be solid. 

24 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 489-511 

juiy thing of so solid a substance can be found in nature ; for 
the lightning of heaven passes through the walls of houses, as 
also noise and voices pass; iron glows, being penetrated by 
heat, in the fire ; rocks often burst with fervent heat ; the 
hardness of gold, losing its firmness, is dissolved by heat ; the 
icy coldness of brass, overcome by flame, melts ; heat, and 
penetrable cold, enter into the sifbstance of silver, for we 
have felt both with the hand, when, as we held silver cups 
after our fashion,' water was poured into them from above ; so 
that, as far as these instances go, there seems to be nothing 
solid in nature. But because, however, right reason, and the 
nature of things, compel me to hold a contrary/ opinion, grant 
me your attention a tvhile, until I make it plain, in a few 
verses, that there really exist such bodies as are of a solid 
and eternal corporeal substance ; which bodies we prove to be 
seeds and primary particles of things, of which the whole 
generated universe now consists. 

In the first place, since a two-fold nature ^ of two things, a 
two-fold nature, or rather two natures extremely dissimilar, 
has been found to exist, namely, matter, and space in which 
every thing is done, it must necessarily be that each exists by 
itself for itself, independently of the other, and pure from ad- 
mixture; for wheresoever there is empty space, which we call 
a vacuum, there there is no matter, and, likewise, wheresoever 
matter maintains itself, there by no means exists empty 
space. Original substances are therefore solid and without 

Furthermore, since in things which are produced,^ or cotw 

' As we held silver cups after our fashion.] Ver. 496". Manu reti- 
nentes pocula rite. I have added the word silver from Creech's in- 
terpretation. Lucretius seems to have had in his imagination a 
gue?t at a feast, holding up his cup partly filled with wine, for an 
attendant to pour liot or cold water into it. They mixed cold water 
with their wine in simimer, and hot in winter. 

2 In the first place, since a two-fold nature, *r.] Yer. 504. Solid 
body and vacant space must exist distinct from each other; for 
where there is space that is not vacant, it must be filled with solid 
body ; and in space which is filled with solid body there can be no 

' Furthermore, since in things which are produced, Ac.'J Ver. 
512. He has proved that vacuum exists ; and it must accordingly 
exist among compound bodies ; but that whicli bounds it must be 
solid, or vacuum would bound vacuum ; and this solid may be a 

B 1. 013—536. LUCRETIUS. 25 

pottnded qfmatter,there\s foimdemiptj SY)a.ce, solid matter must 
exist around it; nor can any thing be proved by just argu- 
ment to conceal vacuity, and to contain it within its body, 
unless you admit that that vi'hich contains it is a solid. But 
that solid can be nothing but a combination of matter, such 
as may have the power of keeping a vacuity enclosed. T/iat 
matter, therefore, which consists of solid body, may be eternal, 
while other substances, ivhich are only compounds of this mat- 
ter, may be dissolved. 

In addition, too,' if there were no space to be vacant and 
unoccupied, all space would be solid. On the other hand, 
unless there were certain bodies to fill up completely the places 
which they occupy, all space, which any where exists, would 
be an empty void. Body, therefore, is evidently distinct from 
empty space, though each has its place alternately ; since all 
space neither exists entirely full, nor, again, entirely empty. 
There exist, therefore, certain bodies which can completely Jill 
the places which they occupy, and distinguish empty space 
from full. 

These bodies, which thus completely Jill space, can neither 
be broken 2 in pieces by being struck with blows externally, nor, 
again, can be decomposed by being penetrated internally ; nor 
can they be made to yield if attempted by any other method ; 
a principle which we have demonstrated to you a little above ; 
for neither does it seem possible for any thing to be dashed in 
pieces without a vacuum, nor to be broken, nor to be divided 
into two by cutting ; nor to admit moisture, nor, moreover, 
subtle cold, nor penetrating fire, by which operations U7id 

combination of solid original particles ; and, though this compound 
solid may be dissolved, yet the original solid atoms of which it is 
composed remain imperishable. This I consider to be the drift of 
the argiunent in the text, which, perhaps from some corruption, 
seems not very clear. Lambinns has this comment : " Generated 
.hings have vacuity within them ; otherwise they would not perish 
or be dissolved. But if they perish because they have vacuity in 
them, there must yet he matter in which there is no vacuity, solid 
nnd indissoluble, lest all things shoidd be reduced to nothing." 

' In addition, too, 4fc.] Vcr. 521. There must be body that 
completely fills space, or how would empty space be distiHguished 
from full ? 

'^ These bodies — can neither be broken, *<?•] Ver. 529. Since, 
then, there are solid bodies, they must be eternal ; for, since they 
contain no vacuity, how can they be broken or dissolved ? 

26 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 537—565. 

means all things compounded are dissolved. And the more 
any thing contains empty space within it, the more it yields 
when thoroughly tried by these means. It", therefore, the 
primary atoms are solid and without void, they must of neces- 
sity be eternal. 

Again, unless there had been eternal matter,' all things, before 
this time, would have been utterly reduced to nothing ; and 
whatsoever objects we behold would have been reproduced 
from nothing. But since I have shown above, that nothing 
can be produced from nothing, and that that which has 
been produced cannot be resolved into nothing, the primary 
elements must be of an imperishable substance, into which 
primary elements every body may be dissolved, so that matter 
may be supplied for the reproduction of tilings. The pri- 
mordial elements, therefore, are of pure solidity ; nor could 
they otherwise, preserved, as they have been, for ages, re- 
pair things, as they have done, through that infinite space of 
time which has elapsed since the commencement of this material 

Besides, if nature had set no limit '^ to the destruction of 
things, the particles of matter would, by this time, have been 
so reduced, by reason of every former age wasting them, that 
no body compounded of them could, from any certain time, 
however remote, reach full maturity of existence. For 
we see that any thing may be sooner taken to pieces than put 
together again ; for which reason, that which the infinitely 
long duration of all past time had broken into parts, disturb- 
ing and dissevering it, could never be repaired in time to 
come. But now, as is evident, there remains appointed a cer- 
tain limit to destruction, since we see every thing recruited, 
and stated portions of time assigned to every thing according 
to its kind, in which it may be able to attain full vigour 
of age, 

' Again, unless there had been eternal matter, S;c.'] Ver. 541. 
Had there been no such solid and imperishable bodies, things must, 
before this time, have been worn out and reduced to nothing, and 
all that we see before us, would have been a re-production from 
nothing. But tliis has been shown to he impossible. 

^ Besides, if nature had set no limit, tsc.~\ Ver. 552. Had there 
been no bodies entirely solid, and not to be worn away, the atoms 
of things would, before this period, vexata per ctvom, 1 lave lost their 
power to make efficient compounds. 

B. 1. 566—592. LUCRETIUS. 27 

To this is added,^ that though the primary particles of mat- 
ter are perfectly solid, yet that all things, which are formed of 
them, may be rendered soft and yielding, as air, water, earth, 
fire (in whatever way they may be produced, and by what- 
ever influence they may be directed) ; but *his happens be- 
cause there is vacant space intermingled \n' .^i the substance of 
things compounded. But, on the other hand, if the primordial 
elements of things were soft, how strong flints and iron could 
be produced, no explanation could be given, for, by this 
supposition, nature will be deprived of all possibility of com- 
mencing a foundation. The primordial elements,, therefore, 
are endowed with pure solidity ; by the dense combination of 
which all compound bodies may be closely compacted, and 
exhibit powerful strength. 

Moreover, if you still persist^ to say that no limit has been 
appointed to the dissolution of bodies, you will then, however, 
have to allow that there must remain certain dissoluble bodies 
in the world, which have not yet been assailed with any trial 
of their strength. But since dissoluble bodies are endued 07ily 
with a fragile nature, it is inconsistent to suppose that they 
could have lasted through an infinite course of time, if they 
had been harassed, age after age, with innumerable assaults. 

Further, since also a limit ^ has been assigned for the growth 
of things according to their kinds, and for their support of 
life ; and since it is established by the laws of Nature what 
each kind can or cannot do ; and si7ice nothing is changed, but 
all things remain constant to such a degree, that even the 
birds of different plumage, all in succession, show, existing 
upon their bodies, spots distinctive of their species ; we must 

' To this is added, <Src.] Ver. 5QQ. The original atoms are not 
the less solid because soft bodies are formed from them, for this is 
effected by the intermixture of vacuum ; were they in themselves 
soft, how would hard bodies be generated from them ? 

"^ Moreover, if you still persist, Ac] Ver. 578. But if you will 
not allow there'is a limit to dissoKition, you must then allow that 
there are dissoluble bodies which have not yet been assailed by any 
power sufficient to destroy them ; but to conceive that such bodies 
exist, and that they have not been attacked, among all the changes 
in things since the beginning of time, by any force sufficient to take 
effect on them, is to suppose that which is scarcely credible. 

' Further, since also a limit, Ac] Ver. 585—599. The uniform 
generation of natural productions must proceed from unvarying 

28 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 593—605 

grant that such bodies must have in them ' an immutable ma- 
terial substance. For if the primitive particles of things 
could be cliangerl, bij being successfully wrought upon in any 
way, it would then also become uncertain what might or might 
not arise into being; it ivouldbe vncertain, moreover, how I'ar 
limited power, and a firmly fixed boundary, is set to each kind; 
nor, with such a possibility of alteration, would the tribes of 
animals, according to their kinds, be so constantly able to re- 
produce the nature, motions, mode of life, and habits of their 

Again, since even of such a body as our senses cannot per- 
ceive,^ there is yet a certain extreme point, lohatever it he, 
that point certainly exists without parts, and consists of the 
least possible natural substance ; nor has it ever existed of it- 
self, apart from its body, nor will it hereafter be able so to 
exist, since it is itself the first and last part ^ of another body ; 

' We must grant that stick bodies must have in them.'] Ver. 592, 
&d. ImmiUabile materia quoque corpus habere Debent ?iimirutn. Or, 
Such bodies must evidently have in them. I have frequently rendered 
nimirum by evidently. " Successfully wrought upon." Revicta : 
i. e. " vicissim victa, et superata." Lambinus. 

* Again, since even of such a body as our senses cannot pA- 
ceive, ^c] Ver. 600. Turn porro, quoniam est extremum qiiodque cacvy 
tnen, &c. He now proceeds to confute those who think that matter 
is infinitely divisible, asserting that there must be, at the extremi- 
ties of the smallest conceivable body, apices, or points, which you 
cannot conceive possible to be detached from that body, and with- 
out which you cannot conceive the body to exist. " Which apices, 
or least of things," says Evelyn, " may haply prove a notion to be 
hardly denied, whether physically or mathematically taken, as the 
much-admired Gassendus largely demonstrates, where he speak/, 
de nan esse magnitudinem Epicure infinite, dividuam, whither I refer the 
curious." These smallest conceivable corpuscles, from which no 
points can be detached, and which, in consequence, are indestruc- 
tible and everlasting, are the atoms of Epicurus and Lucretius, from 
wliich all things are generated; into which all things, in their tiu'n, 
are dissolved; and from which all natural productions that exist, 
are, as long as their existence is protracted, recruited and repaired. 

* First and last part.] Ver. 605. Pars primaque et ima. " Id est, 
et prima atque ultima." Lambinus. And so Evelyn : 

Since what we name 

Ihe first, or last, in bodies is the same. 
The extreme point of a body is i\\e first part of it, if you reckon 
from that point to the interior of the body; and the last part of it, 
if you reckon from the interior outwards to that point. Had it not 

B. 1. 606-616. LUCRETIUS. 29 

after which other and other like parts in succession fill up, in 
a condensed mass, the substance of the body, which parts, 
since they cannot consist by themselves, must of necessity 
adhere to something else, from which they can by no means be 

Primordial atoms are therefore of pure solidity, which, 
composed of tlie smallest points, closely cohei-e ; not combined 
of a union of any other things, but rather endowed with an 
eternal, simple, and i7idissoluble existence, from which nature 
allows nothing to be broken off, or even diminished, reserving 
these primordial atoms as seeds for her productions. 

Moreover, unless there shall be some least,' some poiiit 

been for the authority of Lambinus, I was inclined to render it the 
ultimate and least part. 

' Moreover, unless there shall be some least, <5f^.] Ver. 617- 
Prceterea, tiisi erit minimum. It is observed by Locke, (Essay, 
book ii. chap. 23, § 31,) that "the infinite divisibility of matter, 
whether we gi-ant or deny it, involves us in inexplicable conse- 
quences." If we allow that matter, that is, any portion of matter, 
is infinitely divisible, we admit that a. finite body contains an infinite 
number of parts; if we affirm that it is not infinitely divisible, we 
say, that after a certain number of divisions, we come to a por- 
tion of matter which has no parts ; for that which has parts 
must be divisible into those parts. (See Reid's Inquiry into the 
Human Mind.) From this ditficulty the Epicureans cleared them- 
selves, by asserting that there are certain least possible quantities 
of matter; quantities which are of course indivisible, and which 
are the atoms of which all things are constituted. "Observe," 
says Bayle, (Art. Zeno, note G,) "that those who espouse the 
hypothesis of atoms, do not do it because they apprehend that 
an extended body may be simple, but because they believe 
* * other hypotheses to be impossible." This is the case with 
Lucretius ; he says that there have from the first been atoms, into 
which matter may be divided, but which cannot themselves be 
divided ; and were there not such atoms, he asks, or were there no 
limit to the division of matter, how could substances be kept dis- 
tinct, or how could things be preserved at all? How far the dis- 
coveries of modern chemistry uphold the hypothesis of atoms, is 
well known. See infra, on ver. 626. 

Sir Isaac Newton admitted the same sort of atoms as Epicurus, 
referring their origination, however, to an Almighty power. " It 
seems probable," says he, "that God, in the beginning, formed 
matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable particles, of 
such sizes, figures, and with such other properties, and in such pro- 
portion to space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed 
them. And that these primitive particles, being solid, are incompar- 
ably harder than any porous body compounded of them ; even so 

^ LUCRETIUS. B. I. 617—627. 

where division ends, the smallest bodies will inilividually con- 
sist of infinite parts, as, in that case, amy part of tlie half of 
umj body^ will always have its own half; nor will any thing 
set a limit to this division. What, therefore, will be the dif- 
ference in their nature between the greatest and smallest of 
bodies ? ^ It will not be possible that there should be any 
difference ; for though the whole entire sum of things,^ or the 
Universe, be infinite, yet the smallest things which exist in it 
will equally consist of infinite parts. To \wh.\c\\ position since 
just reasoning is opposed, and denies that the mind can ad- 
mit it, you must be prevailed upon to acknowledge that there 
are bodies which exist having no parts,* and consist of the 
least possible substance ; and since they are so, since they 

very hard as never to wear or break in pieces." Note on Good's 
Lucretius, book i. ver. 536. 

' Any part of the half of any body, .Sfc] Ver. 618. Dimidia partis 
pars. Preigerus observes that Lucretius does not say tchat part of the 
half, and therefore suspects the reading. It would be easy to un- 
derstand dimidia with pars, and say the half of the half, but this I 
have not ventured to do. Creech, in his interpretation, abbreviates, 
according to his custom v/hen there is any difficulty, and says Di- 
midia pars semper haheret dimidiani partem. 

^ Difference — between the greatest and smallest of bodies ?] 
Ver. 620. Eryo rerum inter summam minimamque qtcid escit ? Preige- 
rus understands summam rerum ; what will be the difference between 
the universe and the smallest of objects? And this suits very well 
with what follows. I have, however, thought it safer to adhere to 
Creech, who interprets i?iter rem maximam et minimam. Either sense 
is equally illustrative of the argument. 

What difference would there be 

Betwixt the least and greatest quantitie ? 


If there be no limit to the division of matter, the smallest quantity, 
ind the greatest, will be equally divisible into an infinite number 
i)f parts. 

* Whole entire sum of things.] Ver. 621. Ftmditus omnis summa. 

* There are bodies which exist luiving no parts.] Ver. 626. Esse 
ea, qrtee nullis jam pradita partihus extent. Here Lucretius means 
physical or material parts or points ; there are corpuscles, he says, 
which liave no material parts, tliat is, no parts which can be separ- 
ated from them, so as to exist of themselves. Where he says above, 
ver. 606, that alia; atque alia similes partes make up an atom, he 
ineans the saine material parts; not niathematical points, as Creech 
interprets it; for no number of mathematical points, which are mere 
suppositions and non-entities, can make a substance. 

B. I. 628—636. LUCRETIUS. 31 

are indivisible and undiminishable, you must also concetle that 
they are solid and eternal. 

Further, unless Nature, the producer of things, had been 
accustomed to force all things to be resolved into minutest 
parts, the same Nature would now be unable to recruit any 
thing from i\\o%Q parts ; because those generated bodies v^hioh 
are augmented and repaired by no parts, ^ cannot have and re- 
tain unimpaired those affections which generative matter ought 
to have, namely, various connexions, weights, concussions, 
combinations, movements, by which things are severally 
brought to pass. 

For which reason, those who think that fire^ is the original 

' Because those generated iorfees which are augmented and repaired 
by no parts, ifc] Ver. 632. Propterea, quia quce millis sunt partibus 
aiicta. I have endeavoured to make the best of these words, and 
to translate them as seemed most suitable to the drift of the author. 
All editions from Lambinus to Wakefield read rmdtis ; which was 
Lambinus's conjecture. Wakefield "restored " nullis ; saying that 
by bodies nullis partibus aucta, Lucretius means such as are in some 
degree opposed to atoms, as being, though simplicia, yet grandiuscula, 
and there-fore gignendis rebus minus apta ; an explanation which does 
not satisfy even his satelHte, Forbiger, and which decidedly, I think, 
will satisfy no one else ; for it introduces bodies to which no allusion 
is made in any othei passage of Lucretius, and for which it would 
be hard to find authority in any thing that remains to us of Epicu- 
rus. All the translators seem to have followed the reading multis 
partibus; even Good deserts his master, and gives "still of parts 
possest." Lachmann, I am glad to see, has reinstated multis, 
thinking the sense of Lambinus better than the nonsense of the 
old copies, of which Wakefield was so enamoured. Drummond, 
following Lambinus, renders the passage thus : 

Did Nature, from whose bosom things evolve, 
Ne'er into points tlieir various forms dissolve, 
Vain were her art, and vain her plastic care 
Aught of her mouldering ruins to repair ; 
For vain were compounds, as they ne'er comprise 
Due motion, weight, connexion, form, and size, 
Th' essential properties whence all began, 
Or to repair or renovate the plan. 

Gifanius conjectured qum ullis, which, notwithstanding the hiatus, 
is perhaps the true reading. 

* For which reason, those who think that fire, *ic.] As nobody 
is now likely to be misled by Heraclitus, to believe fire the origin 
of all things, we need bestow little comment upon his doctrine. 
The reader may consult, if he pleases, the Ninth Book of Diogenes 
Laertius. As Lucretius alludes to a power to touch the ear agree- 

32 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 637—661. 

principle of tilings, and that the universe is maintained from 
fire alone, seem to have greatly erred from true rea.son. Of 
which philosophers Heraclitus, as leader, first comes to the 
battle ; a trriter celebrated for the obscurity of his language, 
though rather among the vain and empty, than among the 
sensible Greeks, who seek for truth. For fools rather ad- 
mire and delight in all things which they see hid under in- 
versions and intricacies of words, and consider those assertiofis 
to he truths which have power to touch the ear agreeably, and 
which are disguised with pleasantness of sound. 

For how, I ask, could things be so various, if they were 
produced from fire alone and pure from mixture ? Since it 
'vould be to no purpose that hot fire should be condensed or 
rarefied, if the parts of fire retained the same nature which 
the whole of fire still has.' For though there might be a 
fiercer heat in the condensed parts, and a more languid loarmth 
in the separated and dispersed, there is nothing more than 
this which you can conceive possible to be effected in or by 
such causes ; much less can so vast a variety of things originate 
from dense and rare fire. And this also is to be borne in 
mind, that if they admit vacuity to be mixed with things, fire 
will then have the capability to be condensed, or left rare- 
fied ; but because they see that, in this admission of vacuiti/, 
there are many things adverse to them and their doctrines, 
and therefore shrink from admitting a pure vacuum to exist 
among substances, they thus, while they fear difficulties, lose 
the true path, nor observe that, on the other hand, all vacuity 
being removed from substances,^ all things would be condensed, 

ably, hellt tangere atires, it might be supposed that Heraclitus, though 
obscure, wrote with some degree of elegance, hut I no where find 
this mentioned. 

' Fire still has.] Ver. 650. Habet super ignis. " Super : etiam, 
porro ; e^si Trpor." Wakefield. 

' All vacuity being removed from substances.] Ver. 661. 

Nee rursum cernimt exemptum rebus inane, 
Omnia denseri, fierique ex omnibus unum 
Corpus — 

Exemptum rebus inane is Wakefield's reading, whick he explains, but 
I wish he had explained his explanation. Forbiger adopts the read- 
ing tacitly, and forbears from attempting to interpret. If there 
is any construction to be given to the words, it must be that of 
the Greek nominative or accusative absolute. Lambinus, ard his 

B. I. 662-676. LUCRETIUS. 33 

and one body would be formed from all, which bodi, could 
eject nothing from itself, as glowing fire emits light and heat, 
i7i such a manner that you ma}" see it does not consist of con- 
densed parts. 

But if they think that fire may by any means be extinguished 
in close condensation, and change its natural consistence, and 
if, indeed, they shall not hesitate to allow that this 7nay take 
place absolutely,' then all heat, it is evident, will fall utterly 
to nothing, and whatever things are re-produced, supposing 
all to have been produced from fire, Avill be made out of no- 
thing. For whatever, being changed, departs from its own 
limits,^ this change in it is straightway the deatli or termin- 
ation of that which it was before. Something, therefore, 
supposing ice admit their doctrine, must necessarily remain un- 
changed in thatj?/T of theirs, that all things, as you may see, 
may not utterly fall to nothing,^ and that the multitude of 
objects in the universe may not have-to-flourish by being 
reproduced from nothing. 

And now, therefore, since there are certain most con- 
followers, read exempto rebus inani, which Lachinann has restored. 
Compare ver. 743. For mittere raptim, a little below, I have given 
simply eject. 

• If, indeed, they shall not hesitate to allow — absolutely.] Ver. 
668. Scilicet ex milla facere id si parte reparcent. " If, forsooth, they 
do not at all witlihold admission from this, but allow tliat fire may 
be altogether extinguished, and, losing its own nature, may pass 
into another, it is all over with the philosophy of Heraclitus." 

^ For whatever, being changed, departs from its own limits, 4r<^.] 
Ver. 671. 

Nam quodcunque suis mutatum finibus exit, 
Continuo hoc mors est ilUus quod fuit ante. 

These lines pleased Lucretius so well that he repeated them three 
times; i. 792; ii. 753; iii. 518. Evelyn renders them very neatly: 

For whatsoever once its bounds doth pass, 

Straight perishes from what before it was. 
Good is flat enough : 

For what once changes, by the change alone 

Subverts immediate its anterior life. 
Busby has, 

That which abdicates its nature dies. 
I can find no other attempt worth quoting. 

^ That all things, as you may see, may not utterly fall to no- 
thing.] Ver. 674. Ne tibi res redeant ad nihilum funditus omnes. 


5*4 LUCRETIUS. e. i. 677—705. 

staiit elements, which always retain the same nature, by 
the departure and accession of which, and by their change 
of order, things alter their nature, and compound bodies con- 
vert themselves into a different consistence, it is easy to under- 
stand that these elements of things are not fiery. For it 
would be to no purpose that some of these elements should 
detacli themselves and depart from one place, and be as- 
signed to another, and that some should have their order 
changed, if they all still retained the nature of 'fire, for 
whatever^re might produce would be in all forms only fire. 
IJut, as 1 am of opinion, the truth stands tlius : There are 
certain elementaiy bodies, whose combinations, movements, 
order, position, shapes, produce fire, and tchich, when their 
order is changed, change their nature as a compound ; nor, 
as I think, are they in themselves like to fire, or to any other 
thing, which has the power of emitting particles to our senses, 
and affecting our touch by its application. 

To say, moreover, that all things are fire, and that no real 
substance exists in the whole number of things but fire, {an 
assertion which this philosopher makes,) seems to be in the 
highest degree absurd. Since he himself, while arguing from 
his senses, combats against his senses,^ and shakes the credit 
of those perceptions, on which all things that we believe de- 
pend, and by the aid of which that which he names fire is 
known to him. For he believes that his senses distinguish 
fire accurately ; other things, which are not at all less clear, 
he does not believe that they can distinguish ; an inconsistency 
which seems to me both folly and madness. For to what 
shall we refer for information ? What can be a more certain 
criterion to us than the senses themselves ? How, if ice cease 
to trust them, can we distinguish what is true, and what is false ? 

Besides, why should any one rather set aside all other 
things, and desire to admit the substance of fire as the only 
substance, than deny that fire exists, and still allow existence 
to all other substances?'^ For to advance either assertion, 
seems equal madness. 

' Combats against his senses.] Ver. 694. Contra sensiis — reptignat. 
" He contends against his own senses, which feel other things be- 
sides fire." Lambintis. To put trust in the senses was also a chief 
point in the arginnents of Reid and his followers. Comp. ver. 425. 

* Allow existence to all other substa7ices.'\ Ver. 704. Summam ta- 

B I. 706—722. X.UCRETIUS. 35 

Wherefore, those who have thought that fire is the pri- 
mary matter of things, and that the Avhole universe may 
originate from fire ; and those who have determined thart air 
is the first principle^ for the production of t'hings ; those who 
have imagined that water can itself form things of itself; 
and those who have supposed that the earth produces all 
things, and is changed into all substances of things, appear 
all to ha^e wandered extremely far from the truth. 

To these add also those philasophers who couple the ele- 
ments of things,^ uniting Air with Fire, and Earth with Wa- 
ter ; and who think that from these four things, namely, from 
fire, earth, and air, and moisture, all bodies may proceed. 
Among the chief of whom is Empedocles^ of Agrigentum, 
whom, within the triangular coasts of its land, that island 
produced, around which the Ionian deep flowing with vast 
windings,^ sprinkles on it salt^ from its blue waves, and the 
sea, rolling rapidly in a narrow channel, divides with its 
waves the shores of the lands of ^olia, {i. e. Italy, Y from the 

men esse relitiqtiat. " Still resolve to maintain that all other things 
exist." Creech. 

' Air is the first principle, i?fc.] Ver. 708, seq. Anaximenes of 
Miletus is said to have thought that air was the origin of things ; 
Thales taught that all sprung from water; and Pherecydes is re- 
ported to have said that the earth was the parent of all, but on what 
authority neither Faber nor I can discover. There were several 
philosophers, or pseudo-philosophers, of the name of Pherecydes, 
and who will prove which of them, or whether any of them, held 
this opinion ? 

2 who couple the elements of things.] Ver. 713. Conduplicant 

primordia reriitn. " As were Xenophanes, who joined earth and 
water ; Parmenides, who united fire and earth ; Qinopides of Chius, 
who mingled fire and air; Hippo of Rhegium, who put together fire 
and water." Faber. 

' Empedocles.] Ver. 717. " He flourished in the 84th Olympiad; 
wrote in elegant verse concerning the nature of things; and taught 
that all things were compounded of fire, air, earth, and water, and 
resolved themselves again into those four principles. He also said 
that there were two original moving powers, concord and discord, 
the one producing union, and the other separation. Plutarch, de 
Placit. Philosoph. i. 3." Creech. 

* Ionian deep flowing with vast windings.] Ver. 719. Quamflui- 
tans circummagnis amfractibus (eq^wr. " Amfractibus : anlittons? an 
maris?" says Bentley. " Hand dubife maris," says Wakefield. 

* Sprinkles on if salt.] Ver. 720. Virus. "_ Significare ealsedinem 
et amarorem maris d\idum docuit Turneb. xix. 15." Havercamp. 

* iEolia, (i. e. Italy.}:] Ver. 722. On the margin of a copy belong- 

n 9 


LUCRETIUS. B. 1. 723—749. 

boundaries of it (viz. of Sicib/). Here is the vast Charybdis, 
and here the murmurs of ^tna threaten, indicating that the 
mountain is again gathering its wrathful flames, that its vio- 
lence may vomit forth afresh tlie fires bursting from its jaws, 
and once moi-e hurl to the sky its blazing lightnings ; which 
great region, though it seems worthy-of- admiration to the 
human race on many accounts, and is extolled as deserving- 
of-being-visited, being rich in valuable productions, and de- 
fended with a mighty force of inhabitants, yet appears to 
have contained in it nothing more excellent than this man, 
nor any thing more sacred, and wonderful, and estimable.' 
The verses, moreover, which proceeded from his divine intel- 
-^ct, proclaim and expound his noble discoveries so eloquently, 
that he scarcely seems to have been sprung fi-om a human 
origin. He, however, and those whom I mentioned above, 
{men distinguishably below him by many degrees, and far in- 
ferior to him,) although, finding out many things excellently 
and divinely, they gave oracles, as it were, from the inmost- 
temple of their heart, more sacredly, and with much more 
true reason, than the Pythia who speaks from the tripod and 
laurel of Phoebus, yet stumbled ^ in attempting to expound ihe 
principles of things, and, great as they were, fell there with 
a heavy downfal. In the first place they erred, because they 
settle that motion may take place, though all vacuum be ex- 
cluded from matter, and because they admit that there exist 
soft and subtle bodies, (air, sun, fire, earth, animals, vegetable 
productions,) and yet mingle no vacuity in their composition. 
Secondly, they erred, because they assert that there is no limit 
at all to the division of material-particles, and that no bound 
is set to their fracture ; nor do they at all allow that any least 

ing to Havercamp was written in Latin: "That part (of Italy) 
which Jocastes the son of ^Eolus inhabited, along the strait of 
Sicily, was called jEolia." What authority tliere was for this state- 
ment, none of the critics discovered till Lachmann, who found that 
it was taken from Diod. Sic. v. 8 ; and that in a verse of Callima- 
chus, (apud Bentleium, n. 202,) Rhegium in Italy is called the city 
of Jocastus the son of JEohis. Several copies, however, read ItalitB, and 
this reading Lachmann has adopted. 

' More sacred, and wonderful, and estimable.] Ver. 73L Sa7ictum 
magis et mirnmcarnmqne. " Carum, r(;uiaj7«por." Lambhms. " Pluris 
faciendum." Creech. 

* Stumbled.] Ver. 741. Fecere ruitias. " Corruerunt, ceciderimt." 
Ft\ber. So also Lambinnt. 

B. I. 750—767. LUCRETIUS. 37 

exists in bodies, although we see that there is that least, 
namely, the extreme point of every body, which seems to be 
least to our senses ; so that you may hence conchade that 
there exists in bodies a least possible quantity, which you 
yourself cannot perceive, but which, nevertheless, they have 
as an extreme. 

To this is also added, that they make the elements of things 
to be soft bodies, which soft bodies we see to be generated, and 
altogether of a perishable consistence. But if the elements of 
things tvere soft and perishable, the whole universe must fall 
back to notliing,' and the abundance of things flourish by 
being re-produced from nothing. But how far each of these 
suppositions is distant from the truth, you have already had 

Besides, these four elements are in many ways hostile^ and 
destructive to one another ; for which reason, on coming to- 
gether, they will either be naturally destroyed, or will start 
awdy from one another, as we see, when a tempest has arisen, 
the lightnings, and rains, and winds, not congregating together, 
but scattering themselves abroad. 

Moreover, if all things are produced from those four bodies,^ 
and all things are again dissolved into those bodies, how can 
those four be more justly called the primary elements of 
things, than, on the other hand, things may be called the pri' 
mary elements of them, and a backward computation, as it 

' Whoie imiverse must fallback to nothing.] Ver. 757. If the 
elementary particles of things were soft, they would, plagis vexata 
per avom, harassed by long agitation and friction, be in time worn 
out and reduced to nothing. 

 Besides, these four elements are in many ways hostile.] Ver. 
760. Deinde inimica moclis midtis sunt atque venena Ipsa sibi inter se. 
" Are as it were poisons, that is, deadly and destructive, as water to 
fire, (Sfc. * * * So Catullus calls a certain Rufus vitm venenum." Lam- 
binus. A little below I have translated tej)ipestate coactu, " a tempest 
having arisen ; " properly, a tempest being collected. Lambinus and 
others read coorta. 

^ Moreover, if all things are produced from those four bodies, 
fscf] Ver. 7G4. If you say that all things which we see before us, 
distinct from those four bodies, are formed from those bodies, how 
will you prove this? why may you not say, with equal plausibdity, 
that those four bodies are formed from whatever things we see dis- 
tinct from them ? How can you tell which were originals l 

Sh LUCRETIUS. e. i. 768-798, 

were, be made ? For, according to this hypothesis, they are 
produced alternately, and change their appearance, and their 
whole substance among themselves, perpetually. But if 
perchance you imagine that the substances of fire and earthy 
and ethereal air and the liquid of water, meet together in 
such a ivay that by their combination they make no change 
in their nature, nothing will be produced tor you from them, 
neither animated creature, nor any thing of inanimate sub- 
stance, as a tree ; for each element in the conflux of the vary- 
ing heap will exhibit only its own nature, and air will be seen 
to remain mixed together with earth and with some portion 
o/' liquid ;' but primary elements, for the production of things, 
must exercise a latent and unapparent influence, lest any 
element arise above the rest, which may resist their action, 
and prevent whatsoever is being formed from being able to 
attain its proper character. 

These philosophers, moreover, take a beginning from heaven 
and its fires, and make fire first to change itself into the air 
of the sky ; from air they say that water is produced, and that 
earth is generated from water ; and then they say again that 
all things return back from earth, first water, afterwards air, 
then heat ; and that these elements do not cease to interchange, 
and to pass from heaven to earth, and fron earth to the stars 
of heaven ; which primary elements ou^ht by no means to 
do. For it is necessary that there should remain something 
unchangeable, lest all things should be reduced utterly to 
nothing. Since whatsoever, being changed, goes beyond its 
own limits, this change becomes forthwith the death or ter- 
7nination of that which it was before. Wherefore, since these 
four bodies which we have previously mentioned, pass into 
change,- they must necessarily consist of other elements which 
cannot be changed in any way, lest all things should return, as 
you may suppose, utterly to nothing. But you may rather con- 

' Some portion of Viqwidi.] Vcr. 777. Quodam aim rare. Lambinus 
read ardor cum rare, heat with liquid, which is infinitely to be pre- 

^ Since these four bodies — pass into change.] Vcr. 795. In com- 
mtttattim veniimt. C'omnmtatiis, us. I believe it is a uTraK \eyt'>^ii'ov. 
Lest all things should return, as you may suppose, tic. Ne tibi res re- 
deant ad nihilum funditus omnes. See note on ver. 671. 

B. I. 799-817. LUCRETIUS. 39 

elude that certain bodies exist, endowed with such a nature, 
that if perchance they have generated fire, the same bodies 
may, a few particles being taken away and a few being added, 
and their order and motion being changed, produce the air of 
heaven ; and that, in like manner, all other bodies may be 
changed into otlier bodies. 

But manifest fact,' you perhaps observe, evidently shows 
that all things grow, and are nourished upivards, from the 
earth into the air of heaven ; and, unless the season is indul- 
gent with favourable weather, miless the groves are shaken 
with rains and with the moisture of showers,^ and, you will 
add, unless the sun, for his part, cherishes the productions of 
nature and affords heat, corn, trees, and animals would not be 
able to grow. Doubtless ; and unless solid food and soft liquid 
were to sustain ourselves, our bodies, /or icant of them, being 
quickly exhausted, all life also would waste away from our 
nerves and bones ; for we are without all question supported 
and nourished by certain substances, and other and other 
things are nourished by certain substances ; because, as is 
evident, many common elements of many things^ are iinxed in 
many bodies in many ways ; therefore various things are 
sustained by various things. And it is often of great conse- 

' But manifest fact, <S|C.] Ver. 893. In this paragraph he answers 
an objection which may be made. He supposes the objector to 
allege that the four elements are necessary to naturaBfeproduction, 
and therefore may be the originals of things. To this he answers, 
that they are indeed necessary to -production, but are not the more on 
that account the originals of things, than are the food and drink 
necessary to tlie nurture and sustenance of man. 

^ Groves are shaken — with the moisture of showers] Ver. 806. 
Imbribus et tnbe nimbortivi arbusta vacillant. Tabes, a word sometimes 
applied to the melting of snow, as in Lucan, x. 225, cited by Haver- 
camp. See also Livy, xxi. 36, who, in the same chapter, has both 
tabes nivis and tabida nix. — Are shaken.] Vacillant : totter. See vi. 
575, Vacillant onmia tecta. 

^ JVIany common elements of many things, S^c.'] Ver. 814. 

Multimodis communia multis 

Mtdtarum reriim in rebus primordia multa 
" He manifestly makes it his business to repeat the same word as 
often as possible." Preigerus. Wakefield collects a few instancee of 
a similar repetition of -kclq, as in Demosth. cont. Aristag. i. fin. — 
uTravraQ anaai iravra t dya^a ty;^£(70ai. 

40 LUCRETIUS. K. I. 818—837. 

quence with what other elements, and in what position, these 
same elements are combined, and what motions they recipi'o- 
cally cause and suffer. For the same elements constitute the 
heaven, the sea, the earth, tlie rivers, the sun ; the same ele- 
ments constitute corn, woods, animals. But they are actuated 
and made effective by being mixed witli other different ele- 
ments and in different ways. 

Besides, even in my own verses ' you see every where many 
elements common to many words ; although you must never- 
theless allow that the verses and words differ one from an- 
other both in sense and sound ; so much can elements effect, 
even if tlieir order only be changed ! But those elements which 
are the principles of things, being more numerous, can attract 
to themselves more, and form more combinations, from which all 
the various things in the universe may severally be produced. 

And now let us also examine the 'OfioLOf-itpeia of Anax- 
agoras,^ as the Greeks call it ; nor does the poverty of our na- 
tive tongue, indeed, allow us to name it in our own language. 
But it is easy, however, to explain in words the thing itself, 
wliich, as the origin of things, he calls 'O^iojo/iitpeta. He 
thinks, that is to say, that bones are produced from small 
and minute bones ; so likewise that flesh is generated from 
small and minute particles of flesh,^ and that blood is formed 

' Beside!^ even in my own verses, 4rc.] Ver. 823. If the various 
selections and combinations of four and twenty letters, can form so 
many words as are seen in my verses, how infinitely greater a va- 
riety of things may seminal atoms form, being so incalculably more 
numerous ! 

Mark, as my easy verse spontaneous flows, 

How common letters various words compose, 

Though verse from verse, and word from word, be found 

To differ widely, both in sense and sound; 

And hence convicted, let thy reason own 

What wondrous change position forms alone. 

Thus common seeds, more num'rous far, unite 

In all the different forms that greet the light. Drummo7id. 

2 ' 0^1010 fi'tptia of Anaxagoras.] Ver. 830. See Dio^. Laert. book 
ii., and Plutarch de Placit. Philos. book i. from b/toiof, like, and 
mpoQ, ■part. The text sufficiently explains it. 

' Flesh is generated from small and minute particles of flesh.] 
Ver. 836. De pauxillis atque minutis Visceribiis viscus f/irpii. Vis~ 
cut is rightly interpreted Jiesh: "Nam viscera sunt quicquid inter 

B. 1. 838—872. LUCRETIUS. 41 

from many drops of blood meeting together ; he is of ojnnion, 
moreover, that gold may consist of crumbs of gold, and that 
earth may be a concrete of little earths ; that fire may be from 
fires, and moisture from moistures. Other things he ima- 
gines and supposes to be produced in a similar way. Yet he 
does not allow that there is any where a void in things, or 
that there is any limit to the division of bodies. Wherefore 
in both these respects he seems to me to err equally with those 
of whom we have before spoken. 

Add to this, that he supposes principles which are too frail, 
if, indeed, they are principles which are made to be endowed 
with like nature as the things themselves that are produced 
from them, and equally suffer and decay ; nor does any thing 
withhold them from destruction. For what portion of them 
will endure under violent oppression, so as to escape dissolu- 
tion under the very teetli of death ? Will it be fire, or moisture, 
or air ? which of these ? Or will it be blood, or bone ? Not one 
of all those substances, as I conceive ; since every thing uni- 
versally will be equally perishable as those things which we 
see manifestly perish from before our eyes, when overcome 
by any violence. But I call to witness the positions which I 
have before proved, that neither can things be reduced to no- 
thing, nor again grow up from nothing. 

Moreover, since food augments and nourishes the body, we 
may understand that veins, and blood, and bones, and nerves, 
consist of heterogeneous parts. Or, if these philosophers shall 
say. that all food is of a mixed substance, and contains in itself 
small elements of nerves and bones, and also veins and par- 
ticles of blood, it will follow, that btth all solid food, and 
liquid itself, must be thought to consist of such heterogeneous 
matters, and to be mixed up of bones, and nerves, and veins, 
and blood. Besides, if whatever bodies grow from the earth 
are previously latent in the earth, earth must consist of 
all those heterogeneous matters which spring from earth. 
Transfer this reasoning to other objects, and you may likewise 
use the same phraseology : in wood, for instance, if there is 

ossa et cutem est." Servius ad Virg. Mx\. vii. 253. The text 
might be rendered, "flesh is generated from small and minute 
fleshes." Evelyn took it in the sense of entrails: " That entrails do 
of little entrials breed." 

42 LUCRETIUS. B. T 873-8S9. 

concealed flame, and smoke, and ashes, wood must necessarily 
consist of the heterogeneous particles of those substances. 

Here some slight opportunity is left to this sect of philoso- 
phers for eluding the arguments of their adversaries ; an oppor- 
tunitij of which Anaxagoras avails himself, hy alleging that 
although lie thinks all things lie-secretly mixed with all 
things, yet that that alone appears on the surface of each, of 
which there are most jiarticles mixed in the composition of 
each, and placed more as it were in readiness and in front ; 
which, however, is far removed from just reasoning. For, if 
this hypothesis icere correct, it might-naturally-be-expected 
also that corn, Avhen it is broken by the overwhelming force 
of the mill-stone,^ would exhibit some token of blood,^ or some- 
thing of those substances which are nourished in our bodies ; 
(that when we rub stone against stone, blood should flow ;) 
in like manner, also, it would be probable that herbs would 
send forth drops of a sweet liquid, and of similar taste, such 
as are the drops of milk, that issue from the udder of the 
sheep. And, without doubt, we might also suppose that fre- 
quently, when clods of earth are broken, rudiments of the 
several kinds of herbs, and corn, and leaves of trees would ap- 
pear scattered about, and be proved to lie hid in the earth in 

' Overwhelming force of the miH-stone.'] Ver. 880. Minaci robore 
saxi. " MuHici, poetically for terrible and formidable, and therefore 
great and heavy. " Wakefield. 

* Exhibit some token of blood.] Ver. 881. Mittere signum sangxii- 
nis. If blood, according to Anaxagoras, comes from drops of bloocl, 
and blood is produced in our bodies by the medium of corn, surely 
we should, says Lucretius, on crushing corn, sometimes find drops 
of blood in it. What follows, " that when we rub stone against stone 
blood should flow," Quumlapidem m lapidem terimus mariare a-uorem, 
is a verse which Faber, Preiger, Havercamp, and Bentley concur 
in condemning as spurious, and which, though preserved and de- 
fended by Wakefield, even Forbiger himself, following Eichstadt, 
has ventured to include in brackets. It evidently encumbers the 
text uselessly. " It seems to have been written in the margin," 
says Forbiger, " by some one who thought that the words fruges 
robore saxi franguntur required a more accurate explanation, and 
who had in his mind the passage of Plautus, Asin. i. 1, 16, mini me 
tlluc ducis, ubi lapis lapidem ferit f " There seems to be much plausi- 
bility in this conjecture. Whoever made the verse, the upper and 
nether mill-stone, which crush the corn between them, are plainly 
intended. Lachmann, to my surprise, preserves the verse. 

B. I. 

890-917. LUCRETIUS. 43 

minute particles ; moreover that in wood, when it is broken, 
ashes, and smoke, and small particles of fire would be found 
to lie concealed. Of which occurrences, since manifest expe- 
rience shows that none take place, we may understand that 
substances are not so mixed with substances ; but, if Anax- 
agoras toere right, the common seeds of many things must lie 
secretly mixed, in many ways, among other things. 

But, you ioill say, it often happens that on the high moun- 
tains, the extreme tops of tall trees, Avhen near to one another, 
are rubbed together, the strong south winds compelling them 
to act thus, until they shine with a flash of flame bursting 
forth. It is so. And yet the fire is not inherent in the wood, 
but there are in it many seeds of heat, which, when they have 
become confluent by friction, produce a conflagration in the 
woods. But if positive flame' were hidden in the woods, the 
fire could not be concealed for any length of time, but would 
openly consume the forests, and burn up the groves. 

Do you now see, therefore, (what we remarked a little be- 
fore,) that it is frequently of great consequence Avith what 
other elements and in what position the same elements are 
combined, and what motions they reciprocally impart and re- 
ceive? And that the same elements a little altered ^ in respect 
to each other, produce fire from wood, igiies e lignis, just as 
also the words themselves consist of elements or letters a lit- 
tle changed, when we denote wood and fire, ligna atque ignes, 
by distinct appellations. 

Finally, if you tiiink that whatever things you see in the 
visible world, could not be conceived to have been formed 
without supposing the primary particles of matter to be en- 
dowed with a nature similar to the things formed from them, 
your original elements of things, by this hypothesis, become 

' But if positive flame.] Ver. 903. Quod si facta flnmma. " Facta 
Aamma is flame already formed, and collected into a vivid body, its 
seeds having combined; and, if this flame lay hid in the woods, it 
might suddenly burst forth, and destroy all surrounding objects with 
fire." Wakefield. So also Preiger. See Thucydides, ii. 77. 

^ And that the same elements a little altered, ^e.] Ver. 910. At- 
que eadem, paulo inter se mutata creare Ignes e lignis. " As we denote 
dissimilar things by different words, %?mw et ignem, (wood and fire,) 
by changing a little the letters of the alphabet, some being added, 
and some taken away." Lambimts, 

44 LUCRETIUS. B. i. 918-937 

mere absurdities, and fall to the ground.^ For the consequence 
oj' such a supposition will be, that i/ou must have primary 
particles tohich, as the origin of laughter, are themselves con- 
vulsed with tremulous fits of laughter, and others which, as 
the origincds ofiveeping, bedew their own faces and cheeks with 
salt tears. 

And now give me your attention as to what remains ; 
learn and hear more fully and plainly. Nor does it escape 
my knowledge how obscure these matters are ; but the 
great hope of praise has struck my heart with her powerful 
thyrsus, and has at the same time infused into my breast a 
pleasing love of the Muses, with which inspired I now wander, 
in vigorous thought, over the trackless regions of the Pierides, 
trodden before by the foot of no poet. It delights me to ap- 
proach the untasted fountains, and to drink ; and it transports 
me to pluck the fresh flowers, and to obtain a distinguished 
chaplet for my head from those groves whence the Muses have 
hitherto veiled the temples of no one. In the first place, be- 
cause I give instruction concerning mighty subjects, and pro- 
ceed to free the mind from the closely-confining shackles of 
Religion ; in the next place, because I compose such lucid 
verses concerning so obscure a subject, touching every thing 
with the grace of poetry. Since such ornament also seems 
not unjustifiable or without reason. But as physicians, when 
they attempt to give bitter wormwood to children, first tinge 
the rim round the cup with the sweet and yellow liquid of 

' Your original elements fall to the ground.'] Ver. 917. 

Hac ratione tibi pereunt primordia rerum. 
Fiet uti risu tremulo concussa cachinnent, 
Et lacrymis salsis humectent ora genasque. 

" If any one shall suppose that none of those things which are seen 
by our eyes, can be produced otherwise than from similar elements, 
his elements, by this very supposition, will be done away with, for 
they will be no longer elements, but concrete, and even animated 
and rational, substances. For, since men are produced from ele- 
ments, and since men sometimes laugh and sometimes weep, it will 
follow that the elements of which men themselves consist, have the 
faculties of laughing and weeping; which will he most absurd." 
Lambinus. Some have thought that there must be verses lost between 
the first and second of these three lines ; and there certainly is an 
abruptness in the passage which greatly justifies such a supposition. 

B. 1. 938-961. LUCRETIUS. 45 

honey, that the age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious,' may 
find its lips deluded, and may in the mean time drink up the 
bitter juice of the wormwood, and, though deceived, may not 
be injured, but rather, recruited by such a process, may ac- 
quire strength : so now I, since this argument seems ge- 
nerally too severe and forbid ding to those by whom it has not 
been handled, and since the multitude shrink back from it, 
was desirous to set forth my chain-of-reasoning to thee, Mem- 
mius, in sweetly-speaking Pierian verse, and, as it were, to 
tinge it with the honey of the Muses ; if perchance, by such 
a method, I might detain thy attention upon my strains, until 
thou lookest through the whole Nature of Things, and 
widerstandest with what shape and beauty it is adorned. 

But since I have taught that atoms of matter, entirely solid, 
pass-to-and-fro perpetually, unwasted through all time ; come 
now, and let us unravel whether there be any limit ^ to their 
aggregate, or not ; also, let us look into that which has been 
found to be vacancy, or the room and space in which things 
severally are done, and learn whether the whole is entirely 
limited, or extends unbounded and unfathomably profound. 

All that exists, therefore, / affirm,^ is bounded in no di- 
rection ; for, if it ivere bounded, it must have some extremity ; 
but it appears that there cannot be an extremity of any thing, 
unless there be something beyond, which may limit it ; so 
that there may appear to be some line farther than which ^ tliis 
faculty of our sense {i. e. our vision^ cannot extend. Now, 

' Age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious.] Ver. 938. Puerorum 
tetas improvida. — Find its lips deluded.] Ludificetur labrorum tenvs, 
may be deceived as far as the lips (are concerned). — Though de- 
ceived, may not be injured.] Deceptaque non capiatnr. " Decepti non 
damnum aliquod patiantur." Creech. 

* Whether there be any limit, •Sic] Ver. 950, seq. He now pro- 
ceeds to consider whether matter and space he infinite or not. 

' All that exists, therefore, / affirm, <5fc.] Ver. 957. He asserts 
that all that exists, both matter and the space which contains it, is 
bounded in no direction, {niilld regione viarum,') inasmuch as it is 
possible to find no extremity of it. 

* So that there may appear to be some line farther than which, 
4fc.] Ver. 960. 

• ut videatur, 

Quo non longius hmc sensus nutura seqiiatur. 
I have followed Lambinus, who interprets thus : ut videatur, tiuit 

4*5 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 962-97a 

since it must be confessed that there is nothing beyond the 
"WHOLE, the whole has no extremity ; nor does it matter at 
what part of it you stand,' with a view to being distant from its 
boundary ; inasmuch as, whatever place any one occupies, he 
leaves the whole just as much boundless in every direction. 

Besides, if all space which is, be supposed to be bounded, 
and if any one should go forward as far as possible, even to 
what he thinks its extreme limits, and should throw, or attempt 
to throtv, a flying dart,'^ whether would you have that dart, 
hurled with vigorous strength, go on in the direction in which 
it may have been propelled, and fly far forwards, or do you 
rather prefer to think that something would have power to 
hinder and stop it ? For one of the two alternatives you must 

there may be seen, namely, some limiting extremity, quolongiiis, i. e. 
ultra quod, beyond which, h<ee natura sensus, this faculty of vision or 
sight, non seqitatur, cannot extend and exert its power. Evelyn 
translates, in like manner. 

So that one may discern the utmost space, 
Than which no farther it our sense can trace. 

I shall not spend time upon Creech's ex quo videri possit, except so 
far as to observe, that he seems to have led astray the author of the 
old prose version, who gives this wonderful note: "Whatever has 
an extreme may be seen by what is witliout or beyond it. Now the 
Universe, or the All, is not seen by any thing that is beyond it; 
therefore the Universe has no extreme." 

• Nor does it matter at what part of it you stand.] Ver. 964. 
Nee refert quibus assistas regionibus ejus. " In qiiibus partibus con- 
sistas." Creech. Locke, showing that our idea of space is boundless, 
says, (Essay, book i. ch. 17, § 4.) " Wherever the mind places itself 
by any thought, either amongst or remote from all bodies, it can, in 
this uniform idea of space, no where find any bounds or ends, aild 
so must necessarily conclude it, by the very nature and idea of each 
part of it, to be actually infinite." 

2 Throw a flying dart.] Ver. 969. Jaciatque volatile telum. If you 
suppose that there is a boundary to the universe, fix on the place 
where you think it lies, and try to throw a dart beyond it ; the dart 
will either pass beyond it, or will be stopped by some opposing 
body: if it passes beyond it, you have not fixed the boundary of 
the universe ; if it is stopped by any body, there is something be- 
yond your supposed boundary. Ultimus, ver. 969, I have rendered 
as far as possible. — As to finique locet se, ver. 977, I have taken 
Creech's interpretation, who exp'uins the whole passage thus : Qtto 
minus earn partem, in qiiam destinatum fuit, attingat, ibique tanquam in 
termmo se sistat. " Whither it were sent, it could not tend." Evelyn 

B. I. 974—1002. LUCRETIUS. 47 

of necessity admit and adopt ; of which alternatives either 
cuts off escape from you, and compels you to grant that the 
■v\ HOLE exieuds without limit. Since whether there is any 
thing to stop the javelin, and to cause that it may not go on in 
the direction in which it was aimed, and fix itself at the destined 
termination of its flight, or Avhether it is borne onwards be- 
yond the supposed limit, it evidently did not begin-its-flight 
from a boundary of the whole. In this manner I will go on 
tvith you, and wheresoever you shall fix the extreme margin 
of space, I will ask you what then would be the case with the 
javelin. The case will be, that a limit can no where exist ; 
and that room for the flight of the javelin will still extend 
its flight. 

Further, if all the space of the entire whole were shut-in 
and bounded on all sides by certain limits, the quantity of 
matter in the universe would before this time have flowed 
together to the bottom, by reason of its solid weight ; nor 
could any thing be carried on beneath the canopy of heaven ; 
nor, indeed, would there be a heaven at all, or light of the 
sun ; for all matter, from sinking down for an infinite space 
of time, would be accumulated at the bottom of the whole. 
But now, it is evident, no rest is given to the atoms of the 
primary-elements ; because no part of the universe is com- 
pletely a7id fundamentally lowest, whither the atoms might, as 
it were, flow together, and where they might fix their seat ; 
and therefore all things are always carried on in all parts in 
perpetual motion, and the lowest atoms of matter, or those 
which we may conceive to be the loivest, stirred up from the 
infinite of space, are supplied /or the generation of things. 

Moreover, in things before our eyes, object seems to bound 
object ; the air sets-a-boundary-to the hills, and the hills to 
the air ; the land limits the sea, and the sea, on the other 
hand, limits the entire land ; but, as to the whole, there is 
nothing beyond it that can bound it. The nature, therefore, 
of space, and the extent of the profound tvhole, is such a vast, 
which neither famous rivers,' in their course, can run through, 

' Famous rivers.] Ver. 1002. Clara fumhia. — " Celebres fluvii," 
says Creech; and"nobiles fluvii," says the Delphin editor, who 
adds, renowned " for their rapidity, as the Rhone, Danube, <Src." 
Be it so. Faber advocated fidmina, thinking that it suited better 
with clara, and Lachmann has adopted it. Flumma, liowever, ia 
tnore in accordance with labetitia in the next verse. 


LUCRETIUS. B. I. 1003-1022 

though flowinnj for an eternal length of time, nor, by passing 
on, can at all cause that less distance should remain for them 
to go. To such a degree, on every side, vast abundance of 
room lies open for all things, all limit being set aside every 
w^here and in every dii-ection. 

Besides, Nature herself prevents the whole of things 
from being able to provide bounds for itself, inasmuch as she 
compels body to be bounded by that which is vacuum, and 
that which is vacuum to be bounded by body ; that so, by thiji 
alternate hounding of one by the other, she may render all 
infinite.' Else, moreover, if one or other of these did not 
bound the other by its simple nature, so that one of them, the 
vacuum for i7istance, should extend unlimited, neither the sea, 
nor the land, nor the bright temples of heaven,^ uor the race 
of mortals, nor the sacred persons of the gods, could subsist 
for the small space of an hour. For the body of matter, 
driven abroad from its union, would be borne dispersed 
through the mighty void, or rather, in such a case, never 
having been united, would never have produced any thing, 
since, when originally scattered, it could not have been 
brought together. , 

For certainly neither the primary elements of things dis- 
posed themselves severally in their own order, by their own 
counsel or sagacious understanding ; nor, assuredly, did they 
agree among themselves what motions each should produce ; 

' Render all infinite.] Ver. 1010. Infinita omnia reddat. " Uni- 
versum reddat interminatum." Creech. Perhaps I should rather 
havetranslated it, may render all things infinite, that is, produce an 
infinite variety of things by the alternate mixture of matter and 

So that with one and other 
She renders all things infinite together. Evelyn. 

' Bright, temples of heaven.] Ver. 1013. Caeli hicidcE templa. I 
have rendered it literally tetnples, but I should perhaps say that it 
means spaces, quarters, divisions, regions, the derivation generally 
adopted being from ri^vio, rfjuu), to cut ; temuhon, temlum, templum, 
" as," says Mr. Valpy, " Eximo, Exemidum, Exemlum, Exemplum." Ci- 
cero quotes coeli ccerula templa from Ennius. The augurs, when about 
to take omens, divided the heaven into templa, as the astrologers of 
later days divided it into houses. At the beginning of the second 
Book occurs templa serena, in reference to learning and wisdom, 
which I have rendered serene heights. And ver. 1063, I liave trans 
lated caeli templa, " upper parts of heaven. " 

B. I. 1023—1049. LUCKETIUS. JtC" 

but because, being many, and changed in many ways, they 
are for an infinite sjjace of time agitated, being acted upon by 
forces, throughout the whole, thej/ thus, by experiencing 
movements and combinations of every kind, at length settle 
into such positions, by which means, («. €.positio7is,y this sum 
of things, being produced, exists. And this sum of things, 
when it was once thrown into suitable motions, beinf also 
maintained in that state through many long years, causes that 
the rivers recruit the greedy sea with large floods of water, 
and that the earth, cherished by the heat of the sun, renews 
its {productions ; also that the race of living creatures flour- 
ishes undecayed,- and that the gliding fires of hearen live. 
Which effects atoms could by no means produce, unless an 
abundant supply of matter could arise from tlie infinite of 
space, whence every thing that is produced is accustomed to 
repair in time the parts lost. For as the natui-e of animals, 
when deprived of food, wastes and decays, losing its substance, 
so must all things fall away, as soon as matter, turned by any 
means from its course,^ has failed to supply itself. 

Nor can impacts,'' as some may imagine, produced externally 
on all sides, keep together the entire whole, or whatever of 
matter has been combined into a whole. For though some 
external impacts may strike frequently, and thus may sustain 
here and there a part, until others succeed, and tlie requisite 
number of impacts for securing any particular portion may be 
completed ; yet at times the bodies producing the impacts are 
compelled to rebound, and at the same moment to give the pri- 
mary-atoms of things space and time for flight, so that they 
may be carried away free from the aggregate. It is neces- 
sary therefore for such compression by impact, that many atoms 
should again and again rise up into action from the surrounding 
parts ; and besides, in order that the impacts may be given 

' By which means, {i. e. positions).'] Ver. 1027. Qualihus hac 
rebus consistit sicmma creata. " In tales disposituras, quae res efficiant 
illas, quibus hfec summa creata consistat." Forbiyer. Wakefield 
would join summa rebus, for summa rerum, if rebus were genuine ; 
but he admitted Faber's rerum into his text. 

^ Flourishes undecayed.] Ver. 1032. Summa— floreat. " So flour- 
ishes that their sum remains undiminished." Wakefield. 

^ Turned from its course.] Ver. 1040. Avorsa viai. Tijg oSov 
awKTrpafifiiva. Wakefield. 

* Impacts.] Ver. 1041. Plaga, "blows, strokes." 


Wl LUCRETIUS. B. I. 10.50—1075. 


in sufficient numbers, an infinite quantity of matter is requisite 
on every side. 

And in these matters, Memmius, be very far from be- 
lieving that which some say, namely, that all things tend to 
tiie centre ' of the avhole, and that therefore the nature and 
substance of the world stand without any percussions or pies- 
sures from without, and that the highest and lowest parts, as 
we call them, cannot be resolved, or thrown back in any direc- 
tion, because all things strive towards the middle ; (if, indeed, 
you DO believe that any thing, as the earth, according to them, 
can rest upon itself in the middle; and that those heavy bodies 
which are on the lower part of the earth, all tend upwards, or 
to the centre, and rest upon the earth, although placed in a re- 
verse position to ourselves, like the shadows of things which we 
every day see in the water, with their lower parts uppermost.) 
And in like manner they contend that the animals beneath us 
range about with their feet upwards, nor can fall back from 
the earth into the lower parts of heaven, more than our bodies 
can spontaneously fly oif into the upper parts of heaven; 
that when they see the sun, we behold the stars of night, and 
that they share the times of heaven, the hours of light and 
darkness, alternately with us, and pass nights corresponding 
in time to otir days. 

But a vain delusion must have devised all tliese things for 
foolish men, mistaken in that they have embraced a wrong 
opinion at the commencement. For there can be no middle 
where vacuum and space are infinite ; nor, even if there Avere a 
middle, would any thing at all rest there more on that account^ 
than it wou^d stay there for any other fi^r different reason. 
ISince all ?nere place, and space which we call empty, must, 
ichether through the centre or through what is not the centre, 
yield eqvalhj a passage to equal weights, in whatsoever direc- 

/itia \\\ these matters all thin<i:s tend to the centre.] Vcr. 

1051. "It was the opinion of the Peripatetics, and of the old 
Academics, (of whom Plato, however, is perhaps to be except- 
ed. ) of the Stoics, and of all who admit only one finite world, that 
all lieavy l)odies are borne towards the centre, and all light bo- 
dies from tl>e centre to the extremity. But Epicinnis, and others 
wlio tliink that there are innmuerable worlds, and that the universe 
is infinite, allow leither extremity nor middle." Lambhius, Comp 
ver. 10(>9 

B. I. 1076—1096. LUCRETIUS. 51 

tion their motions tend. Nor is there any place, at which 
when bodies have arrived, they can make a stand in vacuo, 
having lost the force of weight ; — nor again, must that which 
is vacuum, give support beneath any thing, but must proceed 
to yield that passage through it which its nature requires. 
Things, therefore, cannot be held in combination under such 
a hypothesis, namely, that they are influenced by a tendency 
to the centre. 

This sect of philosophers are in error, moreover, inasmuch 
as they do not suppose that all particles tend to the centre, 
but oidy those of earth and water, as the liquid of the sea 
and the great floods from the mountains, and those which are 
contained, as it were, in earthy substances ; but set forth, on 
the other hand, that the subtle air of heaven, and warm fire, 
are at the same time carried away from the centre, and that, 
from this cause, the whole sky twinkles around us with stars, 
and the flame of the sun is fed throughout the blue expanse 
of heaven, since all the heat, fleeing from the centre, collects 
in those parts : (for the generations of men also, they say, are 
fed from the earth, by food rising from the centre; nor could 
the extremities of the brandies of the trees produce leaves, 
if the earth did not gradually supply sustenance to each from 
the ground ;) while they add, that the heaven above covers 
ail things round about, lest the walls of the world, being 
dissolved into their constituent atoms, should suddenly fly,' 

' Walls of the world should suddenly fly.] Ver. 1095. So 

Lucan, Phars. i. 72. 

Sic cum compage solut^ 
Saecula tot mundi suprema coegerit hora, 
Antiquum repetens iterum Chaos, omnia mistis 
Sidera sidevibus concurrent : ignea pontum 
Astra petent: tellus extendere littora nolet, 
Excutietque fretum : fratri contraria Phoebe 
Ibit, et obliquum bigas agitare per orbem 
Indignata diem poscet sibi ; totaque discors 
Machina divulsi turbiibit foedera numdi. 

So when this knot of nature is dissolved, 
And the world's ages in one hour involved^ 
In their old Chaos, seas with skies shall join, _ 
And stars with stars confounded lose their shine: 
The eart'; no longer shall extend its shore 
To keer the ocean out ; the moon no more 

52 LUCRETIUS. B I. 1097—1010. 

like winged flames, through the vast void, and lest other 
things should follow in like manner ; lest, moreover, the 
regions of heaven, containing the thunder, should fall from 
above, and the earth should hastily withdraw itself from un- 
der our feet, and all human beings, dissolving their bodies 
i7ito their elements, should pass away, in the midst of the 
mingled ruin of things of earth and heaven, through the deep 
INANE, so that, in a moment of time, no relic should exist of 
them, except desert space and blind atoms.' For wheresoever 
you shall suppose atoms to be first absent from their proper 
place, that part will be the gate of death to all things ; by 
that part, the whole crowd of material-elements will rush 
forth abroad. 

These things if you shall understand, led on by my humble 
effort, (for one proposition will appear plain from another,) 
dark night will not prevent your progress, or hinder you from 
seeing clearly into the last depths of nature; so effectually 
will ti'uths kindle light for truths. 

Follow the sun ; but, scorning her old way, 

Cross him, and claim the guidance of the day. 

The falling world's now jarring frame no peace, 

No league shall hold. May. 

' Blind atoms.] Ver. 1103. Frlmordia casca. The inijierceptible 
primary elements of all things. 



Ha-»iflg exhorted Memmius to the study of philosophy, ver. 1 — 60, Lucre- 
tius proceeds to treat of the properties of atoms, of which the first is 
motion, which they owe either to their own weight or the impulse of other 
atoms, ver. 60 — 87. Atoms are borne downwards, as being heavy, and 
when solid atoms come in collision, they must necessarily rebound ; some 
unite with others ; those that unite closely, form bodies hard and dense ; 
those that combine more loosely, thin and subtle substances, ver. 88 — 107. 
Some do not coalesce, but wander continually through space, impelling 
and agitating other atoms, ver. 108 — 140. The swiftness of atoms, ver. 
141 — 166. He attacks those who deny the Epicurean doctrine of atoms, 
and refuse to admit that this unchangeable order of things is maintained 
without a divine providence, ver. 167 — 183. Atoms in their course down- 
wards decline a little from the right line, 184 — 221. Were they not to 
decline, nothing would be produced, and there could bo no free agency 
in animals when produced, ver. 222 — 271. Atoms are stiU borne on in 
the same way in which they have moved from all eternity ; nor is this 
assertion to be disputed because all things seem at rest, ver. 272 — 332. 
The second remarkable property of atoms is figure ; how greatly they 
differ in this is shown by the vast variety of things produced from them, 
ver. 332 — 425. Some atoms are rough and jagged, others smooth and 
round ; some produce bitter and some sweet, some hard and some soft 
bodies, ver. 426 — 476. But the figures of atoms are not infinite, though 
the number of each figure is infinite, ver. 477 — 580. Shows that com- 
pound bodies contain atoms of different figures, and alludes to the natural 
history of the earth, and the fabulous history of Cybele, ver. 580 — 728. 
Atoms have not those qualities which we call sensible qualities, as colour, 
taste, heat, cold, &c., though they generate bodies having those qualities, 
ver. 729 — 1021. The infinite number of atoms, moving through the in- 
finite of space, compose infinite worlds, which are sometimes increased by 
atoms being added, and sometimes diminished and dissolved by the separ- 
ation and departure of atoms, ver. 1022 — 1149 ; just as, before our eyes, 
plants and animals grow up, decline, and perish, ver. 1150 — 1172. 

54 LUCRETIUS. . E. II. 1—20. 

It is sweet, when the winds' disturb the waters on the "vast 
deep, to behold from tlie land the great distress of another ; 
not because it is a joyous pleasure that any one should be-made- 
to-suffer, but because it is agreeable to see from what evils 
thou thyself ai't free. It is also sweet to contemplate the 
contending-forccs of war, arrayed over the plains, without 
any share of thy own in the danger. But nothing is sweeter 
than to occupy the well-defended serene heights raised by 
the learning of the wise,^ from whence thou mayest look down 
upon others, and see them straying in all directions, wander- 
ing about to find the best path of life ; contending in intellec- 
tual power, vying with each other in nobleness of birth, and 
striving by excessive labour, night and day, to rise to the 
highest power, and to obtain the government of affairs. 

O wretched minds of men ! O blind souls ! In what 
darkness of life, and in how great dangers, is this existence, 
of whatever duration it is, passed ! May we not see that the 
nature of every man demands ^ nothing more for itself, but 
that he, from whose body pain is removed and absent, may 
exercise his mind with a pleasurable feeling, exempt from care 
and fear ? 

We are sensible, therefore, that very few things are neces- 

' It is sweet when the winds, Ac] Ver. 1. " For the idea con- 
tained in the first two verses," says Dr. Good, " Lucretius seems in 
some measure to have been indebted to Isidorus. 'Nothing is 
more pleasant,' says this writer, 'than to sit at ease in the har- 
bour, and behold the shipwreck of others,' iv Xifi'tvi K-aS'jjcrSat, leai to. 
Tv)v dWtDv (jKOTTtlv vavcijia. Pelus. lib. ii. ep. 240." But as Lucre- 
tius died about five hundred years before Isidorus Pehisiota, the obliga- 
tion can hardly be proved to lie (xi Lucretius' side. Lambinus, with 
more probabihty, suggests that Lucretius may have had in his mind 
these verses of Menander : 

'Qc V^v Tt/v BaXarrav airoQiv ytig Itnav, 
'Q unrip, tan, fit) nXtovra ^j;t^af(wc. 
" IIoRT sweet it is, O mother, to contemplate the sea at a distance 
from the land, being altogether free from sailing on it ! " 

- Serene heights raised by the learning of the wise.] Ver. 8. Edita 
doctrinu sajnentum templa screna. Edita, says Wakefield, is "raised 
up, made, produced, built on high, by the learning of philosophers." 

^ Nature of every nuin demands, Ac] Ver. 17. " Jyaturam cuju'*- 
libet hominis, nisi ut illc fruatur, that you may not hesitate in set- 
tling the construction." Bentley apud Wakejiehl. 


B. II. 21—15. LUCRETIUS. 55 

sary to the nature of the body ; those thi?igs, namehj, which 
are of such a kmd that they may keep off pain, and that they 
may afford, at the same time, many pleasures ; nor does na- 
ture herself ever require ' higher gratification. If there are 
not, in the houses of men, golden images of youths, holding 
in their right hands blazing lamps, in order that light may 
be supplied for the nocturnal feast ; and if their dwelling nei- 
ther gleams with silver nor glitters with gold, nor harps cause 
the arched and gilded roofs to resound ; '•^ nevertheless, when 
they have stretched themselves upon the soft grass, near a 
stream of water, under the boughs of a high tree, they socially, 
though with no great wealth, gratify their senses with plea- 
sure, especially when the weather smiles upon them, and the 
seasons of the year sprinkle the green grass with flowers. 
Nor do hot fevers sooner depart from the body, if you arc 
tossed on woven figures and blushing purple, than if you are 
obliged to lie under a plebeian covering. 

For which reason, since neither riches, nor nobility, nor 
the glory of a kingdom, are of any profit as to our body, we 
must further suppose that they are of no profit to the mind : ^ 
unless, perchance, when you see your legions ■* moving with 
energy over the surface of the plain, stirring up the images 
of war, or when you see your fleet sailing-with-animation, and 
spreading far abroad upon the toater, religious-fears, alarmed 
at these things, flee aff"righted from your mind, and the dread of 
death then leaves your time undisturbed ^ and free from care. 

' Nor does nature herself ever require.] Ver. 23. Gratius interdum 
neque natura ipsa requirit. " It is to be observed, what we perhaps 
observe first, that interdum neque is put for nunquam." Faber. 

^ Nor harps cause the — roofs to resound.] Ver. 28. Nee citharm 
rehoant — templa. " Citharae seems to be the nominative plural, re- 
6oa?j« being put ioxreboare faciunt." Forbiger. The passages in which 
these lines of Lucretius have been imitated by Virgil, (Georg. ii. 
461,) and other poets, it would require too much space to quote. 

^ We must further suppose that they are of no profit to the mind. ] 
Ver. 39. Quod superest, animo quoque nil prodesse putandum. " Cre- 
dendum etiam non animo prodesse." Creech. Quod superest for 
praterea, etiam, 

* Unless, perchance, when you see your legions, Sfc.'] Ver. 40. 
Si non forte ttias legiones, &c. " Ironically. Unless, perchance, cares, 
and religious terrors, and dread of death, are driven from the mind 
by the aid of legions and troops of cavalry ; an effect which will 
never be produced." Lambinus. 

' Time undisturbed.] Ver. 45. Vacuum tempus. I have translated 

56 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 4G-69. 

But if we see that such suppositions and expectations are ridi- 
culous and merelji objects of derision, and that in reality the 
fears and pursuing cares of men dread neither the sound of 
arms nor cruel weapons, and mingle boldly among kings and 
rulers of affair.-;, nor shrink before the brightness gleaming 
from gold, or the shining splendour of a purple garment, why 
do you doubt but that fo produce these effects is wholly the 
office of rea.son,' especially when all our life labours under the 
darkness of ignorance'} For as children tremble ^ and fear 
every thing in thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear some- 
times things which are not more to be feared than those 
which children dread, and imagine about to happen, in the 
dark. This terror of the mind, therefore, it is not the 
rays of the sun or the bright arrows of day that must dis- 
pel, but the contemplation of nature, and the exercise oj 

Attend now, therefore, and I will explain to thee by what 
motions^ the generative bodies of matter produce various thing.s, 
and resolve them when produced ; and by what force they 
are thus compelled to act, and what activity has been com- 
municated to them for passing through the mighty void 
of space. Do thou remember to give thyself xoholly to my 

For, assuredly, matter does not constantly cohere as being 
closely condensed in itself, since we see every object dimin- 
ished, and perceive that all things flow away, as it were, 
through length of time, and that age withdraws them from our 

tempus "time," though Lambiniis said that if it were genuine it 
must mean "the head," and, concluding it spurious, substituted 
pectus. Wakefield replaced tempus, aptly adducing Tcr. Heant. I. i. 
38. Sine me, vacivom tempus ne quod dem mihi Laboris. 

' Wliolly the office of reason.] Ver. 52. Omni' sit hac rationi' po- 
testas. ' ' For hmc omnia potest ratio, or hcec sola potest ratio. ' ' Preirjerus. 

* For as children tremble, ^c.'] Ver. 5^. Nam veluti pueri trepidatit, 
&c. See on iii. 88. 

^ I will e.vplain to thee by what motions, Ssc"] Ver. 61. "This is 
the argument of the second book. He promises that he will frst 
explain the motions of atoms, by which things are produced and 
dissohed; secondly, the cause; and tJiirdly, the swiftness, of those 
motions." CVeec/t.— Compelled to act, <Src.j Ver. (i;i. "On account 
of innate motion ; for, unless this be supposed, another origin of 
things must be sought, and recourse must be had to the gods." 

B. II. 70—92 LUCRETIUS. 57 

eyes ; while, nevertheless, the sum of all seems to remain un- 
decayed. And this happens for this reason, that the particles 
of matter which depart from each object, lessen the object from 
which they depart, and endow with increase the object or objects 
to which they have transferred themselves ; and oblige the 
former to decay, but the latter, on the contrary, to flourish. 
Nor do they continue always in the place to which they have 
gone; and thus the sum of things is perpetually renewed, and 
the races of mortal men subsist by change and transj'erence 
from one to the other. Some nations increase, others are di- 
minished, and, in a short space of time, the tribes of living 
creatures are changed by successive generations, and, like the 
racers, deliver the torch ' of Win from hand to hand. 

If you think that the elemental-atoms of things can remain 
at rest, and can, by remaining at rest, generate fresii motions 
of things, you stray with a wide deviation from true reason. 
For, since the primary-particles of all things wander through 
the void of space, they must necessarily be all QAVv'ieA forwards 
by their own gravity, or, as it may chance, by the force of 
another body ; for when, being often moved, they, meeting, 
have struck against one another, it happens that they suddenly 
start asunder in diflFerent directions ; since neither is it to be 
wondered at that bodies should do so, which are of the ut- 
most hardness, and of solid weight ; nor, it is to be observed, 
does any thing behind oppose their 7nntio?i.'^ And that you 
may the more clearly understand that all the atoms of matter 
are tossed about and kept in motion, remember that in the 
sum of the whole, or in the entire universe, there is no lowest 
place; nor has it any point where the primary atoms may 

' Like the racers, deliver the torch, <S:c.] Ver. 78. Et quasi cursores 
vitai lampada trachmt. " At this time [the feast of Vulcan at Athens] 
there was a race with torches, called 'Ayuiv Xa/iTraoovxoe, in the 
academy ; the manner of which was thus : the antagonists were 
three young men, one of whom being appointed by lot to take his 
turn first, took a lighted torch in liis hand and began his course; he 
delivered it to the second, and he in like manner to the third. The 
victory was his who carried the torch lighted to the race's end." 
Potter's Antiq. of Greece, hook ii. ch. xx. See Pausan. in Att. 33, 
Plato de Rep. i. 1, and de Legg. vii. 18, YivvtZvTai; re /cdi fKTpi(pov- 
rac Trai5a£, Ka.^d Trtp XafnrciSa rbv jSiov TrapaSiSovraQ dWoig i% aXKwv. 

- Nor — does any thing behind oppose their motion.'] Ver. 87. 
Nee quicquam a tergo ibvs obstet. " For empty space offers no ob- 
struction." Faber. 

58 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 93-121. 

make a stand ; since space is without bound and limit, and 
shows of itself, by many indications, that it extends around in- 
finite in every direction. And this has been proved by indis- 
putable argument.' 

Which immensity of space being admitted, there was evi- 
dently allowed no rest to the primary atoms passing through 
the void profound ; but rather, driven by perpetual and con* 
stant motion, part, when struck by other atoms, rebound to a 
great distance, and part also, when struck, rebounding only to 
short distances, are caught and intertwined, as it were, by the 
stroke of the particles that come in contact with them. And 
whatsoever particles being brought together in a more close 
congeries, rebound only to small distances, as being involved 
by their own entangling shapes, these form the strong sub- 
stance of rock, and the rigid consistence of iron, and a few 
other things of their kind, and of similar hardness. Other 
particles again, which wander through the vast void of space, 
fly, when struck, far oif, and rebound away to great distances ; 
these supply to us the thin air and radiant light of the sun. 

And many atoms besides wander through the great void, 
which are rejected by combinations of bodies, and have no 
where been able, admitted into union, to associate their motions 
with other atoms. Of which circumstance, as I conceive,^ an 
example and image is, from time to time, moving and present 
before our eyes. For, behold, whensoever the beams of the 
sun pour themselves through a chink into the dark parts of 
houses, you will see, in the light of the ray.s, many minute 
particles throughout the open space, mingled together in many 
ways, and, as it were, in perpetual conflict, exhibiting battles 
and fights, contending in companies, nor allowing any pause 
to their strife, being agitated by frequent concussions and se- 
parations ; so that you may conjecture, from this spectacle, 
what it is for the primary-particles of things to be perpetually 

' Proved by indisputable argument.] Ver. 93. Certa et ratione 
prohatum est. See the argument from the throwing of a dart, i. 967. 

^ As I conceive.] Ver. 111. Vti memoro. Such appears to be the 
meaning which we must give to meynoro in this passage. The com- 
mentators are silent, except Creech, who gives expUco. Good has, 
"if aright I deem;" and Coutures, " ce me semble." We must 
suppose it to be used in a middle sense, / cause myself to recollect, or 
I think. But some manuscripts, says Pius, have memorabo, which we 
ought perhaps to adopt. 


B. II. 122—151 LUCRETIUS. 59 

tossed about in the great void. Assuredly a small thing may 
give an example, and traces leading to the knowledge of" great 
things. On this account it is more fitting that you should give 
your attention to these motes which seem to confuse one an- 
other in the rays of the sun ; because such disorders signify that 
there secretly-exist tendencies to motion also in the principles 
of matter, though latent and unapparent to our senses. For 
you will see there, among those atoms is the sun-beam, many, 
struck with imperceptible forces, change their course, and turn 
back, being repelled sometimes this way, and sometimes that, 
every Avhere, and in all directions. And doubtless this er- 
rant-motion ^ in all these atoms proceeds from the primary 
elements of matter ; for the first primordial-atoms of things 
are moved of themselves ; and then those bodies which 
are of light texture, and are, as it were, nearest to the na- 
ture of the primary elements, being urged by secret i:n- 
pulses of those elements, are put into motion, and these lat- 
ter themselves, moreover, agitate others which are somewhat 
larger. Thus motion ascends from the first principles, and 
spreads forth by degrees, so as to be apparent to our senses, 
and so that those atoms are moved before us, which we 
can see in the light of the sun ; though it is not clearly 
evident by what impulses they are thus moved. 

And now, O Memmius, what activity and swiftness of mo- 
tion"^ has been given to the original atoms of matter, you may 
learn from what follows. In the first place, when Aurora 
sprinkles the earth with new light, and the various birds, flit- 
ting through the pathless groves, fill everi/ part, amid the soft 
air, with their liquid notes ; how suddenly, at such a time, the 
rising sun, overspreading all things, is wont to clothe them with 
his rays, we observe to be visible and manifest to all. But that 
heat, and clear light, which the sun sends forth, do not pass 
through mere empty space ; on which account, it is compelled 
to go more slowly, because it has thus to force a passage 

• And doubtless this errant-motion, ifc.] Ver. 131. Scilicet hied 
principiis est omnibus error ; Pritna moventur enim per se priinordia rerum, 
" In this manner all other parts of matter are tossed and wander 
about, the commencement of motion being derived from the primary 
particles." Lambiims. Observe that omnibus is the dative case. 

"^ What activity— o/ motion, §-c.] Ver. 141. "He now proceeds 
to prove by an argmnent or comparison a minori, with what activity 
primordial atoms are endowed." Lamhinus. 

CO LUCRETIUS. B. II. Ift2— 178. 

Ihrough the floorl of nir ; nor do the particles of heat pass 
every one singly, but connected and combined together ; for 
Avhich reason they are, at the same time, both retarded by 
one another, and externally obstructed, so as to be obliged 
to proceed less rapidly. But the primordial-atoms, which are 
of pure solidity,' when they pass through empty space,^ and 
nothing external retards them; and when, moreover, they 
themselves, being one and uncompounded in all their pai'ts, 
are to that one place borne onwards, by their own tendency,^ 
to which they have begun to proceed, must be thought, it is 
evident, to excel in swiftness, and to be carried forwards 
much more rapidly than the light of the sun, and to run 
through a much greater region of space ^ in the same time as 
the beams of the sun traverse the heaven. For neither have 
they to delay, being retarded by deliberation how they shall 
proceed, nor have they to pursue the neighbouring atoms one 
after the other, that they may learn by what method every 
thing is to be done. 

But some ignorant persons, in opposition to these opinions, 
thirih that the nature of matter cannot, without the will and 
providence of the gods, be ordered so suitably to human plans 
and conveniences, as to change the seasons of the year, and to 
produce the fruits of the earth, and to effect also other things 
in which the directress of life, divine Pleasure, prompts mor- 
tals, and herself leads them, to engage ; so that they may pro- 
pagate their kind through the allurement of gratification, 
lest the race of men should perish. For whose sake, when 
they imagine that the gods settled all things, they seem in all 
respects to have departed far from just reasoning. For though 
I were ignorant what the primary-elements of things were, 
yet this I could venture to assert from a contemplation o/the 

1 Of pure solidity.] Ver. 156. Solid/i — simpUcitate. " Of solid sim- 
plicity." The same expression is used, i. ,549, 575, 610. 

= Pass througli empty space.] Ver. 157. Per inayie meant vaamm. 
That is, each behig surrounded with vacuum; not coming in con- 
tact with other atoms. 

3 By their own tendency.] Ver. 159. Connixa. 

* A much greater region of space.] Ver. 162. Multiplex loci spatium. 
The same phrase occurs, iv. 208. Scheller, in his Lexicon, inter- 
prets multiplex, in this passage, "extensive, large, great." But as 
Livv, vii. 8, uses multiplex comparatively, multiplex munerus — quam 
— , \ 'think Creech right in explaining multiplex spatium by multo ma- 
Jus spatium. 

» Ti. 179—210. LUCRETIUS. 61 

nature of heaven itself, and to demonstrate from many other 
things, that the Avorld was by no means made for us by divine 
power ; although these opinions incur reprehension among 
the generality of mankind. Which matters, Memmius, I 
will make clear to you hereafter ; we will now explain Avhat 
remains to he said concerning the motions of atoms. 

This is now the place, as I think, in discussing these sub- 
jects, to make plain to you, that no corporeal substance can, of 
its own proper force, be borne and advance upwards ; lest the 
particles of flame should deceive you in this matter. For 
though they are produced upwards, and take increase upwards, 
yet also tlie smiling corn, and groves, have their growth up- 
wards ; though all weights, as far as is in them, are borne down- 
wards. Nor, when fire springs up to the roofs of houses, and 
consumes the beams and rafters with a swift flame, is it to be 
thought that it does so without a compelling force ; as is the 
case, for example, when blood, sent forth from our body, 
spouts out, springing up on high, and sprinkling abroad a 
purple stream. Do you not see, also, with how strong a force 
the liquid substance of water repels beams and logs of wood ? 
Do you not observe how, the more we have, on any occasion, 
urged them straight downwards, and have powerfully pressed 
them doivn with great force and with difficulty, so the more 
eagerly the water casts them back and sends them upwards, 
so that they rise up and leap forth with a larger portion of their 
substance?^ And yet we do not doubt, I suppose, that these 
bodies, as far as is in them, are all borne downwards through 
empty space. Thus, accordingly, flames must also have the 
power to rise, when driven up, through the air of heaven, al- 
though tlieir own weights, as far as is in them, strive to draw 
them downwards. Do you not, moreover, see that meteors in 
the night, flying through the height of heaven, draw long tracks 
of flame in whatever directions nature has given them a passage ? 
Do you not see shooting stars fall to the earth ? The sun, also, 
from the highest point of the sky, spreads abroad his heat on 

' Leap forth with a larger portion of their substance.'] Ver. 200. 
Plus tit imrte foras emergant exsilin7itque. " They naturally rose above 
the water at first with a certain portion of their bulk ; but, after 
being pressed down, they start up above it with a still greater por- 
tion." Wakefield. 

62 LUCRETIUS. b. n. 211—238 

all sides, and covers the fields with his light ? The heat of 
the sun, therefore, also tends downwards to the earth. And 
you observe likewise the lightnings fly through the oblique 
showers ; the fires, bursting from the clouds, rush sometimes 
in one way, sometimes in another ; and the body of flame falls 
very frequently to the earth.' 

In reference to these subjects, also, we wish you to undf.r- 
stand this ; that the particles-of-matter, when they are borne 
downwards straight through the void of space, do for the most 
part, by their own weights, at some time, though at no fixed 
and determinate time, and at some points, though at no fixed 
and determinate points, turn aside ^ from the right line, but 
only so far as you can call the least possible deviation. 

But unless the atoms were accustomed to decline from the 
right line, they would all fall straight down, through the void 
profound, like drops of rain through the air; nor would there 
have been any contact produced, or any collision generated 
among the primary-elements ; and thus nature would never 
have produced any thing. 

But if, perchance, any one believes that the heavier bodies, 
as being borne, more swiftly, straight through the void of 
space, might fall from above on the lighter ones, and thus 
produce concussions, which might give rise to generative 
movements, he deviates and departs far from just reasoning. 
For whatsoever bodies fall downwards through the water and 
the air, they, of necessity, must quicken their motions accord- 
ino- to their weishts, inasmuch as the dense consistence of 
Avater, and the subtle substance of the air, cannot equally re- 
tard every body, but yield sooner to the heavier bodies, being 
overcome by them. JBut, on the contrary, a pure vacuum can 
afford no resistance to any thing, in any place, or at any time, 
but must constantly allow it the free passage which its nature 
requires. For which reason all bodies, when put into motion, 

^ Falls very frequently to the earth.] Ver. 215. Cadii in terras — 
tolffb. For volf/i) Creech f^'ivos passim ; Wakefield seems to take it in the 
sense of noti raro, which I prefer. 

2 Particles-of-matter turn aside.] Ver. 2\6, seq. Had all 

atoms descended tln-ouffh space in straitriit lines, like drops in a 
shower of rain, fallin^j perpendicularly, there could have heen no 
collisions, and no generative motions. Epicurus, therefore, found 
it necessary to make them, or some of them, deviate from the straight 

B. II. 239-'i&9. LUCRETIUS. 63 

must be equally borne onwards, thotigh not of equal weights, 
through the unresisting void. The heavier atoms will, there- 
fore, never be able to fall from above on the lighter, nor, of 
themselves, produce concussions which may vary the motions 
by which nature performs her operations. 

For which cause, it must again and again be acknowledged 
that atoms decline a little from the straight course, though it 
need not be admitted that they decline more than the least 
possible space ; lest we should seem to imagine oblique 
motions, and truth should refute that supposition. For this 
we see to be obvious and manifest, that heavy bodies, as far 
as depends on themselves, cannot, when they fall from above, 
advance obliquely ; a fact which you may yourself see. But 
who is there that can see ' that atoms do not at all turn them- 
selves aside, even in the least, from the straight direction of 
their course ? 

Further, if all motion is connected and dependent, and a 
new movement perpetually arises from a former one in a cer- 
tain ordei', and, if i\\e primary-elements do not produce any 
commencement of motion by deviating from the straight line 
to break the laws of fate, so that cause may not follow cause 
in infinite succession, whence comes this freedom of will to all 
animals in the world ?'- whence, I say, is this liberty of action 
Avrested from the fates, by means of which we go whereso- 
ever inclination leads each of us? xohence is it that we ourselves 
turn aside and alter our motions, not at any fixed time, nor 

' But who is there that can see, §c.] Ver. 249. Sed nihil omnino 
recta regione via'i declinare, qiiis est, qui possit cernere, sese ? You must 
admit this declination from thp straight hue, says Epicurus, for who 
can see that there is no such declination? See Lambiniis. Many 
other admissions Epicurus calls upon his disciples to make on si- 
milar grounds. 

Yet that no bodies in the least are turn'd, 

What searching sight hath ever yet discern'd ? Busby. 

^ Whence comes this freedom of will to all animals in the world?] 
Ver. 256. Libera per teri-as vnde hcec animantibus extat—vohmtasf 
''Whence is our liberty of action? Ask of the atoms themselves : 
if their motion be invariably direct, there arises from this motion a 
chain of fate and necessity ; if there be collision, (supposing collision 
to take place with perfectly direct motion,) there arises from it the 
same necessity. To declension from the right line only, therefore, 
can liberty of action be attributable." Creech. See Cicero rfe Fato, 
and de Nat. Deor. book i. 

64 LUCRETIUS. . B. II. 260-291 

in any fixed part of space, but just as our mind has prompted 
us. F'or doubtless, in such matters, his own will gives a coni- 
mencement of action to every man ; and hence motions are 
diffused tlirough the limbs. Do you not see also, tliat when 
the barriers on the race-course are set open at a certain in- 
stant, yet the eager strength of the horses cannot spring for- 
ward so suddenly as the inclination itself desires ? For the 
whole mass of matter throughout the whole body, excited 
in all the members, must be collected, • and roused sijuul- 
taneonshj into action^ that it may second the desire of the 
mind in connexion with it ; so that you may see that tlie 
commencement of motion is produced from the heart, and that 
the tendency to act proceeds in the first place from the in- 
clination of the mind, and is thence si^read onwards through 
the whole body and its members. 

Nor is this similar to the case in which we go forwards, 
when impelled by a blow, from the great strength and violent 
compulsion of another person, for then it is evident that the 
whole matter of the entire body moves, and is hurried on- 
wards, against our consent, until the will, acting throughout 
the members, has reined it back. Do you now see, therefore, 
that although external force drives along many men, {that is, 
often drives men along,) and compels them frequently to go 
forwards against their will, and to be hurried away headlong, 
yet that there is something in our breast which can struggle 
against and oppose it ; according to the direction of which, 
also, the aggregate of matter ivithin tts is at times obliged to 
be guided throughout our several limbs and members,, and, 
when driven forward, is curbed, and sinks down into rest? 
Wherefore you must necessarily confess that the same is the 
case in the seeds of matter, and that there is some other cause 
for motion besides strokes and weight, from which this power 
is innate in them, since we see that nothing can be produced 
from nothing. For weight forbids that all effects should be 
pi'oduced by strokes, and as if by external force ; but the cir- 
cumstance that our mind itself is not influenced merely by in- 
ternal necessity in performing every action, and is not, as if 
under subjection, compelled oidy to bear and suffer, this cir- 

' Mass of matter must be collected.] Ver. 266. Omnis enim 

totum per corpus fnateria'i Copia conquiri debet. Some manuscripts 
have conciri- 

». II, 29i-3l9. LUCRETIUS. bo 

eumstance the slight declination of the primordial-atoms causes, 
though it takes place neither in any determinate part of space^ 
nor at any determinate time. 

Nor was the general body of matter ever more condensed ' 
together, or, on the other hand, distributed in parts at greater 
intervals, than it is at present. For to that body neither does 
any increase ever take place, nor is any diminution made /ro/w 
it through decay. For which reason, in whatever motion the 
atoms of primordial seeds are now, in the same motion they 
were in past time, and hereafter will always be moved in a 
similar manner ; and whatever things have been wont to be 
produced, will still be produced under like circumstances, and 
will exist, and grow, and acquire strength, as fiar as has been 
granted to each by the laws of nature ; nor can any influence 
change the sum of things. For neither is there any part of 
space to which any kind of matter can fly off from the whole, 
nor, again, is there any part from which any new force, hav- 
ing arisen there, can burst in upon the whole, and thus 
change the entire order of things and alter its movements. 

In these matters, it is not at all to be regarded as wonder- 
ful, why, when all the primordial-elements of things are in 
motion, yet the whole of things seems to stand in perfect 
rest, except whatever individual thing exhibits motion in its 
own body.2 For the entire nature of original-principles lies 
far removed from our senses, and beneath them; for which 
cause, when you cannot see the thing itself, its motions must 
also hide themselves from your eyes ; especially when even 
many things that we can see, nevertheless often conceal their 
motions from 7/.s, as being separated from us by a great dis- 
tance. For frequently, upon a hill, we may observe a flock of 
woolly sheep spread about, cropping the rich pasture, where- 
soever the grass, gemmed with fresh dew, calls and invites 

* Nor was the general hodiy of matter ever more condensed, §•«.] 
Ver. 294. Nee stipatamagisfuittinquam,S^c. " That the primary par- 
ticles cannot be changed, he has already shown; he now asserts 
that matter, considered generally, was never distributed at less or 
greater intervals than at present; for not an atom perishes to cause 
a hiatus in matter, and no new atom is generated to increase the 
density of matter." Creech. 

' Except whatfver individual thing exhibits motion in its own 
body.] Ver. 311. Prceterquam si quid propria dat corpore molus. " Aa 
the air, the water, the heaven, the stars, &c." Faber. 


66 LUCRETIUS. B. n. 320—344, 

each ; while the full-fed lambs sport and frisk about with de- 
light: all which objects, from a distance, appear to us con- 
fused, and oiilj/ a whiteness, as it wei'e, seems to rest upon the 
green hill. Also, when vast legions fill all the parts of a 
plain, stirring up the image of war, the gleam of arms then 
raises itself to the sky, and all the land around glitters with 
brass, while a sound is excited by the force, beneath the feet 
of the men, and the neighbouring hills, struck with the noise, 
re-echo the shouts of the troops to the stars of heaven ; and the 
cavalry, at the same time, swiftly-wheel about, and suddenly 
charge across the plains in the centre, shaking them with 
their violent onset ; all these are disfmct objects, and yet there 
is a certain spot on the high hills, whence, if you look down, 
they seem to rest on the ground as one body, and onh/ a con- 
tinuous brightness to settle over the field. 

Attend now, Memmius,^ and learn, in the next place, of 
what nature the primordial-elements of things are, and how 
very different they are in their forms ; how they are varied 
by manifold shapes. Not that a few only are endowed with 
ike ^orm, for those alike areinnumerable,hni because, through- 
>ut the whole,2 all are not similar to all, but are varied ivith 
great differences. Nor is this Avonderful ; for since the abund- 
ance of them is such, that, as I have shown, there is neither 
any limit nor sum of them, they must not, and cannot, assured- 
ly, be all universally endowed with a like figure and like shape 
to all others.^ 

Besides, consider the human race, and the mute swarms of 
fishes swimming in the sea, and the abundant herds of cattle 
and wild beasts, and the various birds, which frequent the 

' Attend now, O Memmius, §-c.] Ver. 333. " He first shows that 
atoms differ in shape ; next, that their differences of shape are finite ; 
and then that atoms of each shape are infinite." Lambinm. 
2 Throtighout the whole.] Ver. 337. Volgo. 
' Like figure and like shape to all others.] Ver. 311. 

Debent niminun non omnibus omnia prorsum 
Esse pari iilo, similique alfectu figurti. 
Lambinus interprets//o by textura, and Scheller, in his Lexicon, citing 
this passage, makes it ^^ kind, nature." But as Lucretius is heie 
speaking merely of the/o>v«s of atoms, it is evidently to be rendered 
outline or Ji(/ure, as in v. 573 : 

Forma quoque hinc solis debet filumque videri. 
See also v. 587, atque alibi. 

B. ri. 345—375. LUCRETIUS. 67 

pleasant places about the waters, upon the banks of rivers, 
fouutains, and lakes, and which, flitting through the trees, 
traverse the pathless groves ; of which select any one you 
please, in the several kinds, for contemplation, and you will 
still find that they dilFer from one another in their forms. 
Nor, indeed, could the progeny, by any other meaDs, knoAV its 
mother, or the mother her progeny ; whereas we see that ii^ 
ferior animals, not less than men, are knctwn to each other. 
For, on many occasions, a calf, sacrificed at the frankin- 
cense-burning altars, falls before the beauteous temples of 
the gods, pouring forth a warm stream of blood from its 
breast ; but the mother, meanwhile, deprived of her young, 
wandering through the green forests, leaves traces imprinted 
on the ground with her cloven feet, surveying all places with 
her eyes, if any where she may discern her lost offspring, and 
then, standing still, fills the leafy grove with her complaints ; 
she also frequently goes back to look at the stall, penetrated 
with regret for her calf ; nor are the tender willows, or the 
grass fi'esh with dew, or any streams, gliding level with the 
top of their banks, able to soothe her feelings, and drive away 
her sudden affliction ; nor can any other forms of calves, over 
the fertile pastures, divert her attention or lighten her of her 
care ; so perseveringly does she require some shape that is 
familiar and known to her. Moreover, the tender kids, with 
their ti'emulous voices, know, as they plainly indicate, their 
horned dams, and sheep distinguish the bleating of the butting 
lamb ; and thus, as nature requires, each hastens invariably 
to its own milky udder.' 

Lastly, contemplate any sorts of corn,- and still you will not 
find the whole of each in its own kind, or all the grains of each, 
to have such a mutual resemblance, but that some difference 
will run between their forms. And in like manner we see the 
various sorts of shells paint the lap of the earth, where the sea, 

' Each hastens invariably, «Src.] Ver. 370. Ad sua quisqiie fere de- 
currunt ubera lactis. For " fere," generalhj, or, as I have rendered it, 
invariably, Wakefield reads " feri," beasts. 

 Lastly, contemplate any sorts o/corn, ^c.'\ Ver. 371. 

Postremo quodvis frumentuni, non tamen omne, 
Quidque suo genere, inter se simile esse videbis. 
'' With qziodvis frumentum understand sumere perge from ver. 347." 

F 2 

68 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 376-404. 

with gentle waves, strews the bibulous sand on the winding 
shore.^ Again and again, therefore, I repeat, the primordial 
atoms of things, since they exist in their own nature, and are 
not fashioned to a certain shape by the hand of one artificer, 
must likewise circulate through the universe in certain shapes 
dissimilar one from another. 

It is very easy for us, then, by the clear guidance of rea- 
son, to explain why the flame of lightning passes through the 
air with much more penetration than our fire, which arises 
from fuel of the earth. For you may justly argue that the 
celestial fire of lightning, as being more subtle, consists of 
smaller atoms, and therefore flies through diminutive passages, 
which this fire of ours, taking its rise from wood, and pro- 
duced by torches, cannot enter. 

Besides, light passes through horn, but water is repelled 
by it. Why ? unless that the atoms of light are less than 
those of which the genial liquid of water consists. 

Wine, also, we observe to flow as quickly as possible through 
a strainer, but thick oil, on the contrary, moves through it 
slowly ; because, as it appears, the latter either consists of 
larger atoms, or of such as are more hooked and involved 
with one another. And thus it happens, that the individual 
atoms, not being so quickly detached from their coherence 
with each other, cannot so easily pass through the individual 
pores of any body. 

To this is added, that the liquids of honey and milk are 
moved about in the mouth with a pleasant sensation to the 
tongue ; but, on the contrary, the bitter substance of worm- 
wood, and acrid centaury,^ torment the palate with a disa- 
greeable taste ; so that you may easily infer that those things 
which can affect the senses with pleasure, consist of smooth 
and round particles ; but that, on the other hand, whatever 
things seem bitter and rough, are held united together of par- 

' Strews the bibulous sand, ^c."] Ver. .376. Litoris {7icxirvi bihulam 
pavit ceqiior arenam. " Pavit, that is, sternit, from the Greek naito, 
with digamma inserted." Wakefield. 

^ Acrid centaury.] Ver. 400. Feri Centauri, Creech considers 
fencs, in this passatje, to have much the same meaning as teter, 
(^ which is immediately before ap])lied to wormwood,) or tristis, (which 
is applied to centaury, iv. 124,) and ridicules Fayus for thinking that 
it meant " agrestis," wiW. "The whole plant is of an exceeding 
bitter taste." Cidpeper's Ejig. Physician, 

B. II. 405—436. LUCRETIUS. 69 

Acles more hooked ; and that, on this account, they ave ac- 
customed, as it were, to tear a way to our feelings, and to 
wound the skin of our body at their entrance. 

Furthermore, all things which are pleasing to the senses, 
and all which are to the touch unpleasant, are opposed to each 
other, being formed of atoms of a different shape ; that you 
may not, perchance, imagine that the sharp stridor of the 
creaking saw consists of elements equally smooth with the 
melodious notes of music, which musicians form upon the 
strings, awaked, as it were, by their swiftly-moving fingers ; 
and that you may not suppose that atoms of like form pene- 
trate the nostrils of men, when they burn offensively-smelling 
carcasses, and when the stage is freshly sprinkled with Cilician 
saffron,^ and the altar, near at hand, exhales Panchsean odours. 
Nor conceive that pleasing colours, which can feast the eye 
with delight, and those which are, as it were, pungent to the 
sight, and compel us to shed tears, or which seem ugly and 
hideous with a repulsive look, consist of like seminal-atoms. 
For every object, whatever it be, that soothes the sense ot 
the beholders, is not produced without some smoothness in its 
elements, but, on the contrary, whatever is of a disagreeable 
and rough consistence, has not been formed without something 
offensive in its material-principles. 

There are some atoms, also, which are neither justly 
thought to be smooth, nor altogether hooked with bent 
points, but rather to be furnished with small angles slightly 
jutting out, and which have the power rather to titillate the 
sense than to wound it ; of which kind of atoms consist pickle* 
and the taste of elecampane. 

Moreover that warm fire and cold frost penetrate the feel- 
ings of the body differently, as being composed of atoms 
pointed in different ways, the touch of each is a sufficient 
indication. For the touch, the touch, (O sacred deities of 
heaven ! ) is a sense of the body ; and is affected either when 
something external insinuates itself through the pores, or 
when something which is generated in the body, hurts or 

' Sprinkled with Cilician saffron.] Ver. 416. Croco Cilici perfusa. 
"'Theatres were sprinkled with saffron mixed with wine, as Pliny 
relates." Preigerus, Crocum floresque perambulet Atta Fabula. Hor. 
Ep. ii. 1, 70. 

' Pickle.] Ver. 430. Feeeula. " On feecula and garrxm, read the 
commentators on Hor. Sat. ii. 8, ?• Faber, 

70 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 437—459. 

deliglits it in issuing forth, as in the genial exercises of 
Venus ; or wlien the seeds, from striking against each other^ 
raise a tumult in the body itself, and, by mutual agitation, 
confound tlie sense ; as if, for example, you yourself should 
strike any part of your own body, and make trial of this 
sensation. For wliich reason forms of substance, which can 
excite various feelings, must necessarily be far different in 
their elementary-principles. 

Further, those bodies that seem to us hard and dense, must 
necessarily consist of pai'ticles more locked with one another, 
and be held closely compacted,' as it were, by branching atoms. 
Among which kind of bodies, adamantine rocks, naturally- 
adapted to despise blows, stand pre-eminently in the first rank : 
as well as stout flints, and the strength of hard iron, and 
brazen hinges, which, as they support the weight of their gates, 
make a loud grating sound.'^ 

Those bodies, indeed, which are liquid and of a fluid sub- 
stance, must consist, more than harder bodies, of smooth and 
round atoms ; (for a draught of poppy-j uice ^ is even as yield- 
ing^ and as much of a liquid, as a draught of water ;) since 
their several coUections-of-particles are not held together 
rigidly among themselves, and their progress along a descent 
is voluble and easy. 

All things, moreover, which you see scatter themselves in 
a short space of time, as smoke, clouds, and flames, must neces- 
sarily, if they do not wholly consist of smooth and round par- 
ticles, yet not be bound together with complex ones ; so that, 

' Compacted.] Ver. 446. Compacta. " Compacted " is not a word 
in general use, but is found in Hooker, and quoted by Johnson. 

- Brazen hinges, which — make a lowA. grating sound.] Ver. 450. 
^raque, quce cla^istris restantia vociferantur. Claustra here means ^a<e« 
or doors. " Jtestantia quasi sustineniia." Faber. " yEra, brass, that 
is, hitiget of brass, which creak with the weight of the gates." Creech. 

' For a draught of poppy juice, S^c] Ver. 453- Namque papaveris 
haiistus item est facilis quod aquarum. Lambinus thought this verse 
spurious, and ejected it; nor did any editor offer to restore it till 
Wakefield. Lachmann retains it, but alters quod into quasi. Lucre- 
tius, if it be genuine, meant to say in it that one body which is fairly 
fluid is as mxich a fluid as any other that is fairly fluid. Good, who 
professes to adhere to Wakefield's text, passes the verse in silence. 
— Gloyneramina, in the next line, is e\'\Aev\t\y collections of particles, 
as Lambinus understood it ; not round particles, as Creech will 
have it. 

E. n. 460—479. LUCRETIUS. 71 

bei7ig as they are, they may have a pungent effect upon the 
body,' and penetrate rocks, but cannot cohere together; a power 
which we all see to be granted to thorns. You may easily 
understand, therefore, that they do not consist of hooked and 
complicated, but of acute atoms. 

But that you should observe the same bodies, which are 
fluid, to be bitter, as is the liquid of the sea, is by no means 
to be wondered at by any one. For that which is fluid, con- 
sists of smooth and round particles; and with these smooth 
and round particles are mixed pungent particles causing 
pain. Nor yet is it necessary that these atoms should hold 
themselves together by being hooked ; for you may be certain 
that though the particles are rough, they are yet globose, so 
that they may flow among those of the fluid, though at the same 
time they may hurt the sense. And that you may the more cer- 
tainly believe that rough are mixed with smooth particles, of 
both of which, for instance, the mass of the waters of the 
ocean consists, there is, I may mention, a method of separating 
them and considering them apart. The same w^ater of the sea, 
for example, becomes sweet,^ when it is often filtered through 
the earth, so that it may flow, as you may sometimes see, into 
a trench, and thus lose its saltness. For it leaves above, or near 
the surface of the earth, the particles of bitter salt, w4iich are 
rough and jagged ; so that they more easily inhere in the 

Which point since I have now demonstrated, I shall proceed 
to join with it another proposition, which, depending on this, 

' May have a pungent effect upon the body.] Ver. 460. Pun- 
gere nfi possint corpus. " As they are easily dissipated, they do not 
consist of atoms that link together, but as they can stinuilate the 
senses, (as mist and smoke affect the eyes,) and can penetrate hard 
bodies, (as fire enters iron and stone,) they cannot consist wholly 
of atoms that are smooth and round." Creech. 

' The same water of the sea — becomes sweet, &c.] Ver 474. On 
this passage Good happily refers to Thomson's Autumn, ver. 741. 

Some sages say, that where the numerous wave 
For ever lashes the resounding shore, 
Drill'd through the sandy straHim, every way, 
The waters with the sandy stratum rise ; 
Amid whose angles infinitely straui'd, 
They joyful leave then Jaggy salts behind, 
And clear and sweeten as they soak along. 

72 LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 480—504. 

derives its credit /Vow it ; that the primary-atoms of things vary 
in figure, but only with a limited Tiumber of shapes.' If this 
were not so, some seminal-principles would, moreover, necessa- 
rily be of an immense bulk of body. For this is evident, be- 
cause within the same individual minute-frame of any one 
seminal-principle, the figures or arrangements of its parts 
cannot vary much among themselves. Since, suppose that the 
primary-principles consist of a certain definite number of very 
small parts ; say three, or increase them, if you please, by a 
few more ; assuredly when, after arranging all those parts, 
and altering the place of the highest and lowest parts of that 
one body, and changing the right for the left, you shall have 
tried in every way what representation of forms each arrange- 
ment of the whole of that body oiFers, if perchance you shall 
wish still further to vary its forms, you will have to add 
other parts ; and from thence will follow, in like .manner, that 
a third arrangement will require still more, if you shall wish 
by a third arrangement ii\\\ to vary its forms. An increase of 
bulk, therefore, follows upon the variation of shapes ; for 
which reason you cannot believe that seminal-principles differ 
from one another by an infinite variety o/" shapes ; lest, by such 
a supposition, you should make some to be of immense bulk ; 
which I have already shown that it is not possible to prove. 

And if such were the case, if the figures of atoms were in- 
finite, barbaric garments, and shining Meliboean purple,^ tinged 
with the dye of shell-fish from Thessaly, as well as the golden 
brood of peacocks, painted with smiling beauty, would-lose- 
their-estimation in your eyes, being thrown-into-the-shade by 
the new beauty of fresh objects ; the perfume of myrrh and 
the taste of honey would be despised ; and the melodies of 

* That the primary-atoms of things vary in figure, htit only with 
a limited number of shapes.] Ver. 480. Primordia rerum FinitA 
variare fgurarum ratione. Epicurus taught, that the shapes of atoms 
could not be infinite, as it is impossible to imagine an infinity of 
figures in a finite body. Plutarch de Placit. Phil. i. 3. 

^ Barbaric garments, and shining Meliboean purple, ^rc] Ver. 
301. " If tlie shapes of atoms varied to infinity, there could be no 
certain and determinate extreme qualities of things in nature; for, 
by new configurations, objects might be so altered, that something 
better than whatever was best, and worse than whatever was worst, 
might still arise into being. Creech, 

B. II. 505—528. LUCRETIUS. 73 

Bwans, and the tunes of Phoebus, varied on the chords of the 
lyre, would, in like manner, be silenced, as being outdone hy 
something new; for, in every class of things, some new thing 
might arise more excellent than others which are now thought 
the best. 

Or all things might also fall back into a worse state, as we 
have said that they might possibly rise to a better. For, in a 
retrograde order, one thing might arise, time after time, more 
disagreeable than others preceding it, to the nostrils, ears, 
and eyes, and taste of the palate. 

Since this, however, is not so, but a certain limit set to 
things in both directions, as to what is bad and what is good, 
confines the whole, you must of necessity admit that the 
particles o/" matter also vary from one another only by shapes 
that are finite in number. 

Lastly, a distance, so to speak, has been defined from the 
heat of summer^ to the freezing cold of winter, and has been 
measured back from cold to heat in like manner. For the 
whole year is, or consists of, heat and cold ;^ and the moderate 
warmths of spring and autumn lie between botli the other two 
seasons, filling up the whole in succession. The seasons of 
spring and autumn, therefore, as made and appointed, are 
kept-distinct by a limited portion to each ; since they are 
marked on each side by two points, aiid shut in on the one 
hand by heats, and on the other side by rigid frosts. 

Since I have now proved this, I shall proceed to join with 
it another observation, which, depending on this, derives its 
credit from it; that the primordial-atoms of things, which 
are formed of a like figure one to the other, are infinite in 
number ; for since the diversity of their forms is finite, it ne- 
cessarily follows that those which are alike are infinite ; or it 
would appear that the sum of matter must be finite ; which 
I have proved to be impossible. 

• Lastly, a distance — has been defined from the heat of summer, 
4rc.] Ver. 515. He introduces this observation to show that tilings 
in nature are limited ; that there are extreme bounds beyond which 
it is not possible to pass, but within which there are many interme- 
diate degrees of variation. 

^ For the whole year w — heat and cold.] Ver. 517. Omnis enim 
cator ac frigus. Wakefield understands awwws, " tamque ridiculum 
interpretem," says Lachmann, " nostrates venerabundi sequuntur." 
Lachmann himself reads, from conjecture. Ambit enim, &c. 

74 LUCRETIUS B. II. 529-552. 

vSince I have shown this, I will now (give me your atten- 
tion) demonstrate in a few sweetly-sounding verses, that the 
atoms of matter support the whole of things, from all eter- 
nity,' by a succession 2 of movements on every side. 

For though you see in any particular region certain ani- 
mals to be more rare than others, and observe Nature, in those 
less rare, to be more productive,^ yet in another region and dis- 
trict, and in distant lands, it is possible that there may be many 
atiimals of that kind, and that the deficiency of their numbers 
in one place may be compensated in another ; just as we see, 
in the race of quadrupeds, to be especially the case with the 
snake-handed elephants, with many thousands of which India 
is defended as with an ivory rampart, so that it cannot be at 
all penetrated ; so great is the multitude of those beasts in 
that country, J?<# of which we see very few specimens among us. 

But yet, that I may, if you wish, grant this also,'' let there be, 
in your imagination, any single creature you please, existing 
alone with its own natural body, and to which there may be 
no creature similar in the whole round of the earth ; yet, un- 
less the quantity of the seeds of matter, from which that crea- 
ture may be formed and generated, shall be infinite in ?iumber. 
It will neither be possible for it to be produced, nor moreover, 
tf it could be produced, to grow up and be nourished. 

For let your eyes conceive (i. e. imagine that you see) the 
generative atoms of any single thing, being limited i?i num- 
ber, tossed about through the whole of space ; whence, / ask, 
where, by what force, and by what means, will they, meeting 
together, unite, amid so vast an ocean of matter, and so mighty 
a confusion of dissimilar particles ? They have, as I think, 


From all eternity.] Ver. 531. Ex injinito. " Abaeterno." Creech, 

Ab aeterno tempore." Lambimts. 

" Succession.] Ver. 532. Protelo. See iv. 191. 

' And observe Nature, in those less rare, to be more productive.] 
Ver. 534:. Fecimdamque magis natrtram cernis in ollis. This is Wake- 
field's reading, and Forbiger's interpretation, if interpretation it can 
be called ; for in truth the magis makes the passage sheer nonsense. 
Lanibinus, and all other editors, except Wakefield, Forbiger, and 
Eichstadt, read Fecundamqiie mimts, which Lachmann has rein- 

* But yet, that I may — grant this also.] Ver. 542. Sed tamen, id 
quoque uti concedam. This, namely, which follows. Another argu- 
ment to prove the infinity of material atoms, and " a more ingeni- 
ous one," says Faber, " tlian it may at first appear." 

B. 11. 552-581. LUCRETIUS. 75 

no method of combining themselves. But, as when great and 
numerous shipwrecks have arisen, the vast sea is wont to scat- 
ter abroad floating benches, hollow fragments ' of vessels, sail- 
yards, prows, masts, and oars ; so that the ornaments of sterns'^ 
may be seen swimming on all the coasts of the earth, and may 
give admonition to mortals, to resolve to avoid the treachery, 
and violence, and deceit of the faithless sea ; nor, on any oc- 
casion, to be too credulous, when the insidious flattery of the 
calm deep smiles ; so if you, iit this case, shall once settle 
for yourself that certain primordial atoms are finite in number, 
you must then allow that the diiferent agitations of matter will 
necessarily toss them about, scattered, as they will be, for ever ; 
so that they can at no time, being driven together, unite in 
combination, or, if they should unite, remain in combination, or 
swell with increase ; both of which effects manifest proof shows 
to occur before our eyes, namely, that things are produced, and 
that, when produced, they have the power to increase. It is 
therefore evident, that, in every class of beings, the primordial- 
elements of things, from which all are supplied, are infinite 
in number. 

Nor, therefore, inasmuch as original-el e7nents are infinite, 
can the movements of things, ivliich are destructive to vital 
existence, always prevail, or bury its safety for ever ; though 
neither, on the other hand, can motions productive of gener- 
ation and increase, always preserve things tchich have been 
formed. Thus a war of principles, grown up from the infi- 
nite space of the past, is carried on with equal strife ; the 
vital principles of things prevail sometimes in one place, 
sometimes in another, and are prevailed over in their turn. 
The wail which infants raise, when they come forth to view 
the regions of light, is mixed with funeral lamentations ; nor 
has any night followed a day, or any mommg followed a night, 
which has not heard groans, the attendants of death and 
gloomy obsequies, mixed with the weak cries of infants coming 
into the world. 

' Hollow fragments.] Ver. 554. Cavernas. " This word it is easy 
to understand of any fragment of the interior of a ship." Wakefield. 
Other editors read guberna. 

^ Ornaments of sterns.] V^er. 556. Aplustra. " In Greek u<p\a(Tra. 
They were ornaments, not on the prow, but on the stern ; for the 
ornaments on the prow were called aKpoaroXia." Faber. 

"6 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 582—619. 

In considering these pointa, it is proper for you, also, to 
have it impressed, as with a seal, upon your mind, and to keep 
\t fuithfuUy intrusted to your memory, that there is nothing, 
among all objects of which the nature is apparent before us, 
which consists onhj of one kind of elements ; nor any thing, 
which does not consist of mixed seminal-principles. And 
whatever possesses in itself more numerous powers and ener- 
gies than other things, thus demonstrates that it contains more 
numerous kinds of primary-particles and various configura- 
tions of them. 

In the first place, the earth has in itself primary atoms, from 
which springs, rolling forth cool loaters, incessantly recruit the 
immense sea ; it hascr/^o in itself atoms from which fires arise. 
For in many places, the soil of the earth, when set on fire, 
burns ; and the violence of -^tna rages with mighty flames. 
Aloreover, the earth contains atoms from which it can raise up 
rich corn and cheerful groves for the tribes of men ; and from 
which also it can afford waving leaves and abundant pasturage 
for the brood of wild beasts ran^insf over the mountains. For 
which reasons the earth alone is called the great mother of the 
gods, and mother of beasts, and parent of the human race. 

The old and learned poets of the Gieeks sung that she, in 
her seat on her chariot, drives two lions yoked together ; sig- 
nifying that the vast earth hangs in the open space of the air, 
and tliat 07ie earth cannot stand upon another earth. They 
added the lions, because any offspring, however wild, ought to 
be softened, when influenced by the good ofiices of parents. 
And they surrounded the top of her head with a mural crown, 
because the earth, fortified in lofty places, sustains cities ; dis- 
tinguished with which decoration the image of the divine 
mother is borne, spreading terror, through the wide world. 
Her various nations, according to the ancient practice of their 
worship, call the Idosan mother, and assign her bands of 
Phrygians as attendants, because they say that from those 
parts corn first began to be produced, and thence ivas diffused 
over the globe of tlie earth. They assign to her also the 
Galli ; because they wish to intimate that those, who have 
violated the sacred-respect due to their mother, and have been 
found ungrateful to their fiithers, are to be thought unworthy 
to bring living offspring into the realms of light. Distended 
drums, and hollow cymbals, resound in their hands around the 

B. n. 620—650. LUCRETIUS. 77 

goddess ; and their horns threaten with a hoarse noise, while 
the hollow pipe excites their minds with Phrygian notes. 
And tliey carry weapons outstretched before them, as signs 
of violent rage, which may alarm with terror the undutiful 
minds and impious hearts of the crowd, struck with tl>e power 
of the goddess. 

As soon, therefore, as, riding through great cities, she, 
being dumb, bestows a silent blessing on mortals, they strew 
the whole course of the road with brass and silver, enriching 
her with munificent contributions ; while they diffuse a shower 
of roses, overshadowing the mother and her troop of attend- 
ants. Here the armed band, whom the Greeks call by the 
name of Phrygian Curetes, dance round vigorously with ropes,' 
and leap about to their tune, streaming with blood. Shaking 
the terrible crests on their heads as they nod, they represent 
the Dict^ean Curetes, who are formerly said, in Crete, to have 
concealed that famous infant-cry of Jupiter, when the armed 
youths, in a swift dance around the child, struck, in tune, 
their brazen shields with their brazen spears, lest Saturn, 
having got possession of him, should devour him, and cause 
an eternal wound in the heart of his mother. Either for this 
reason, therefore, armed men accompany the great mother ; 
or else because the priests thus signify that the goddess ad- 
monishes men to be willing to defend the land of their country 
with arms and valour, and to prepare themselves to be a pro- 
tection and honour to their parents. 

These pa ffea7its, though celebrated as being fitly and excel- 
lently contrived, are yet far removed from sound reason. For 
the whole race of the gods must necessarily, of itself, enjoy 
its immortal existence in the most profound tranquillity, far 
removed and separated from our affairs; since, being free from 
all pain, exempt from all dangers, powerful itself in its own 
resources, a7id wanting nothing of us, it is neither propitiated 

' Dance round vigorously with ropes.] Ver. 631. Inter se forte 
catenas Liuhmf. That a rope was used in dancing both by Greeks 
and Romans is known from Aristoph. Nub. 540; Ter. Adelph. iv. 7, 
34; Liv. xxvii. 37, and other authorities. But catenas, in this pas- 
sage, is merely from a conjecture of Turnebus, which Lambinus 
adopted. Wakefield read sorte catervis, which even Forbiger did not 
venture to retain. Lachmann reads forte qiiod armis. — Forth is for 


B. II. 651—681 

by services from the good, nor affected with anger against 
the bad. 

The earth, indeed, is at all times void of sense, but, because 
it contains the primary elements of many things, it brings 
forth many productions, in many ways, into the light of the 
sun. If any one, then, shall resolve to call the sea Neptune, 
and corn Ceres, and chooses rather to abuse the name of Bac- 
chus, than to utter the proper appellation of wine ; let us 
concede that such a one may pronounce the orb of the earth 
to be the mother of the gods, provided that it still be alloived 
to remain its real self. 

But to return, then, to the i7ijinite variety of atoms, the 
woolly sheep,' we often see, cropping the grass from the same 
plain, and the warlike brood of horses, and the horned herds, 
living under the same part of the canopy of heaven, and 
quenching their thirst from the same stream of water, grow 
up of dissimilar species, retaining the parent nature ; and 
all follow habits according to their kinds ; so various is the 
nature of the matter in each kind of herb ; so great is the 
variety of particles in each river. Hence, moreover, though 
the s>dime parts, bones, blood, veins, heat, moisture, viscera, 
and nerves, make up any one you please of all animals, still 
these, being very different in themselves, are formed of pri- 
mary-particles of an entirely diffej'ent figure. 

Further, whatever bodies, being set on fire, burn, show 
that there are cherished in their mass, if nothing else, those 
various seminal-atoms, from which they are enabled to throw 
forth fire and cast up light, and also to put sparks in motion, 
and scatter abroad embers. 

Surveying other things with like reasoning, you will ac- 
cordingly find that they conceal in their consistence the seeds 
of many things, and contain various conformations of atoms. 

Again, you observe many objects to which both colour and 
taste have been assigned, together with smell ; especially most 
of the gifts which yoii offer to the gods, when you feel your 
mind affected, in a debasing manner,^ with religion. These 

' But to return, — the woolly sheep, <Sfc.] Ver. 660. Since different 
sorts of animals feed on the same herbs, and drink the same water, 
the herbs and water, which nourish every kind equally, must con- 
tain various sorts of seminal principles- 

* In a debasing manner] \'er. GSl. Turpi pacta. This is Wake- 

B. 11. 682—707. LUCRETIUS. 79 

tilings must therefore consist of various conformations of 
atoms; for scent penetrates where juices tvhich excite the 
taste do not make a way to the corporeal organs ; also juices 
by their particular method, and flavour by its particular 
method, win their way to the senses ; so that you may know 
that they arise from different conformations of atoms. Dis- 
similar forms of particles, therefore, combine in one mass, and 
things consist of mixed seminal-principles. 

Besides, even in my own verses ^ you see every where many 
elements common to many words ; though you must neverthe- 
less necessarily acknowledge that the verses and words con- 
sist part of some elements and part of others, differing among 
themselves ; not because only a few common letters run through 
the words, or because no two words, out of all, are alike in 
having any letter in common ; ^ but because, taking the words 
throughout, all the letters are not common to all. So likewise 
in other matters, many common elements, as they are the pri- 
mary-principles of many things, may yet exist in dissimilar 
combinations among themselves ; so that the human race, 
and the fruits of the earth, and the rich groves, may justly be 
considered to consist each of distinct original-particles. 

Nor yet is it to be thought that all particles can be com- 
bined in all ways ; for, if this were the case, you would every 
where see monsters arise ; i/ou would behold shapes produced 
half-man half-beast, and sometimes tall boughs of trees grow 
out of an animated body ; i/ou tvoidd observe many members 
of terrestrial animals united to those o/' marine animals, and 
nature breeding, throughout the all-producing earth, Chimae- 
ras breathing flame from horrid mouths. Of which irregu- 

field's reading ; other editions ha^e parto. Wakefield also conjec- 
tures facto. 

' Besides, even in my own verses, <S|C-] Ver. 688. He uses the 
same illustration, i. 823. 

* Or because no two words, out of all, are alike in having any letter 
in common.] Ver. 693. Aut niiUii inter se duo sint ex omnibus 
eacletn. This is Forbiger's verse, which he caWs jmuIo imped itiore in, 
and thus illustrates, " Js^on quo duo (verba) ex omnibus nulla (litera) 
inter se eadem sint : i. e. non quasi litera non in duobus verbis di- 
versis occurrere possit." Lambinus reads, aut nulla (verba sc.) 
inter se duo sint ex omnibus isdem (Uteris sc). Wakefield for bdem 
substituted eidem, versui sc. And Lachmann gives, Autmdli (versus 
sc.) inter se duo sint ex omnibus idem. Any one of these is better tii&U 
Forbiger's monster. 

90 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 708- 734. 

larities it is evident that none occrur, since we see that all 
things, being produced from certain seeds, by an unerring 
generative nature, can, as they grow up, preserve their kind 
pure and unmixed. 

And it is phiin that this must necessarily be the case ac- 
cording to strict method and laws. For, from the several 
sorts of food that are eaten, the particles, suitable to each 
animal, pass internally into its limbs and other parts, and, 
being there combined, produce motions fitted to that animal. 
But, on the other hand, we see that nature throws back upon 
the earth those particles which are unsuitable to the animal; 
and many, existing in imperceptible substances, escape out of 
the body, being wrought upon by the impulses and agitations 
of other particles ; which effluent particles could neither be 
combined in any part, nor consent, and be animated, to par- 
ticipate in the vital movements. 

But lest you should think that animals only are bound by 
these laws, a certain order and regularity, let me observe, 
keeps all things distinct. For as, throughout the whole of 
nature, things dissimilar from one another are individually 
produced, so it is necessary that each should consist of a differ- 
ent form of elements. Not that only a kw elements are endowed 
with like forms, but because all, throughout all bodies, are not 
similar to all. 

Since, moreover, seminal-particles differ, their intervals, 
passages, connexions, weights, impulses, collisions, motions, 
must necessarily differ ; variations which not only keep dis- 
tinct the bodies of animals, but give peculiarity to the land 
and the whole sea, and cause the heaven to differ in nature 
from the earth. 

And now attend /wr^/ter,' and receive into your mind my pre- 
cepts which I, with pleasing toil, have collected together. Do 
not, by any chance, imagine that those things which you see be 
fore your eyes of a white colour consist, because they are white, 
of wliite elemental-atoms ; or tliat those which are black, are 
produced from black seminal-particles ; nor suppose that any 
objects, which are tinged with any other colour whatsoever, 

' And now attend /«r<Aer, <S|C.] Ver. 729. " He now proceeds to 
show that the primary-atoms are void of colour, and indeed of all 
quahties, except shape, size, and weight." Lambinus. This is itt 
conformity with the doctrine of Epicurus, as given in the Epistle to 
Herodotus, in Diog. Laert. book x. 

B. II. 736— 768. LUCRETIUS. SI 

wear that colour because their material elements are tinctured 
with a hue similar to it. For there is no colour at all in the ele- 
mentary-atoms of matter, either similar to f/int of the bodies in 
which they exist, or dissimilar. Into the nature o/" which ele- 
mentary atoms, if you think that the mind cannot penetrate, so 
as to form an idea of them, because they are without colour, 
you wander far away from the truth. Since, when those who 
have been born blind, and who have never seen the light of 
the sun, yet distinguish substances by the touch, xchich to 
them have seemed unmarked by colours from their earliest 
youth, we may understand also that substances actually un- 
tinctured with colour, may be brought under the comprehen- 
sion of our intellect. Moreover whatever objects we ourselves 
touch in thick darkness, we do not perceive to be tinged with 
any colour at all. 

Since I prove it to be possible that atoms may be colourless, 
I will now show that it certainly is so. For every colour is, or 
may be, changed into ail colours whatsoever ; but this is a. 
transmutation which primordial elements must by no means 
undergo ; since it is necessary that there should remain some- 
thing unchangeable, lest all things should be reduced utterly 
to nothing. For whatsoever being changed,' goes beyond its 
own limits, tliis change forthwith becomes the death or termin- 
ation of that which it was before. Be cautious, therefore, 
not to tinge the seeds of things with colours, lest all things 
for your gratification^ should be reduced to nothing. 

Besides, if no kind of colour has been assigned to primary- 
particles, and if they are endowed with various forms, by which 
they generate and vary all kinds of colours ; and since, more- 
over, it is of great consequence with what atoms, and in 
what configuration, seminal-particles are severally combined, 
and Avhat impacts they mutually give and receive ; you may 
at once, with the ease, render a reason why those 
objects which were a while ago of a black colour, may sud- 
'lenly become of a marble whiteness ; as when the sea, after 
violent winds have stirred up its waters, is changed in hue, 
and boils up into waves white as the whiteness of marble. 
For you may readily say of any object which we generally 
observe to be black, that, when its material-atoms have been 

' For whatsoever being changed, ^c.'\ Ver. 753. See i. 671. 
^ For your gratification.] Ver. 756. Tihi. 


82 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 779—797 

disturbed, and tlie order of the particles changed, and some 
taken away and others added, it Ibrthwith becomes possible 
that it may seem of a glowing whiteness.' But it" the Avaters 
of the sea consisted of caerulean atoms, they could by no means 
become Avhite ; for, in whatever way you may disorder and 
commiiigle those atoms which are cierulean, tliey can never 
pass into the colour of marble. But if the atoms which make 
up the simple and pure colour of the sea, were tinged with va- 
rious and diverse colours ; as frequently toe see, from different 
forms and dissimilar figures, is formed a perfect square, con- 
sistmg of onli/ one figure ; it would follow, that, as in the 
square we see the other different figures exist, so in the water 
of the sea, or in any other simple and pure colour, we should 
see those wholly different and distinct colours, from which 
the uniform colour of the sea proceeds. 

Further, the different figures ivhich make up the square, by 
no means hinder or prevent the whole outline - of the com- 
pound figure from being or appearing square ; but the various 
colours of any substances ichich make up any compound sub- 
stance, impede and prohibit that whole compound substance 
from possibly being of one uniform hue. 

Then, moreover, the reason which prompts and induces us 
sometimes to impute colours to primaiy-particles, namely, that 
coloured substances are compounded of them, passes for no- 
thing; because Avhite stihstances, as the foam of the sea for 
instance, are not necessarily produced from otJier white sub- 
stances; nor substances which are black, from o///cr black sub- 
stances; but h'oiw substances of xsiviows, colours; and because, 
moreover, white substances will more readily arise, and be 
produceel, from prima ry-particlcs of no colour than from pri- 
mary-particles of a black colour, or from particles of any 
other colour whatsoever that is adverse and ojiposed to white. 

Further, since there can be no colours without light, and 
the primary-particles of things do not come forth into the 
light,^ you may he7ice feel certain that they are vested with 

' Of a glowing whiteness.] Ver. 771- Candens — et album. 

 Whole outline.] Ver. 785. Omne extra. " In supcrficie et am- 
bitu." Gifanius. 

^ And the primary-particles of things do not come forth into the 
light.] Ver. 796. Xeque in hcccm e.ristunt primordia 7-erum. This is 
not true, for the pviniai y-particles that are on the surface of things 
do come forth into the light. " He reasons thus," says Lambiuus; 

B. ]i. 798-817. LUCRETIUS. 83 

no colours at all. For what soi-t of colour will there possiblv 
exist in thick darkness, iohen colour is a thing which is 
changed in and by mere light, because it appears different, as 
it is struck by direct or oblique light ? As the plunwge of 
doves which is situate round the back of the head, and encir- 
cles the neck, appears of a different colour as it is seen differ- 
ently in the sun. For in one position it is affected so as to be 
red with the hue of the bright carbuncle ; at another time, in 
a certain aspect,^ it is so changed that it seems to mix the 
colour of green emeralds with blue. The tail of the peacock, 
also, when it is covered with a flood of light, changes its co- 
loui's, as it is presented in differefit tvays, in like manner. 
And since all these colours are produced by a certain effect of 
the light, it must be considered that colour cannot be produced 
at all, without that light. 

Since, too, the pupil of the eye^ receives upon itself one 
kind of impulse when it is said to perceive a white colour, 
and another again, when it perceives black and other co/oz^r*; 
and since it is of no moment, as to the feeling, with what 
colour those things, which you touch, are distinguished, but 
rather of what shape tliey are fonned, you may conclude that 
primary-particles have no need of colours, but have only to 
affect the touch differently through the different forms in which 
they are combined. 

Besides, since there is no certain kind of colours peculiar^ to 

"Without light colovu's are not seen ; primary-atoms are not seen; 
therefoi'e pvimary-atoms are without colour : a syllogism which is 
unsound, though all its parts are true." Lambinus was too indul- 
gent ; he should have disputed tlie minor. The atoms of things are 
not seen individually, but they meet the light on surfaces collectively. 

* In a certain aspect ] Ver. 801. Quodam scnsu. " As the French 
say, speaking of vision, en uii certain sens; or, as in ver. 808, quodam 
luminis ictu." Faber. 

^ Since, too, the pupil of the eye, S^-c.] Ver. 810. The sense of 
the paragraph is this : The eye is affected in one way when it jier- 
ceives a white colour, and in another way when it perceives a black ; 
but such affections are produced by touch or impact on the eye, (by 
means, namely, of the images thrown off from the surface of bodies ); 
and to the sense of touch colour is not requisite; therefore primary- 
atoms, which act on the eye by touch, have no need of colour to 
produce their effects, and may be considered to be without it. 

^ Besides, since there is no certain kind of colours peculiar, .^v.] 
Ver. 817. "The force of the argument is this: Suppose that the 
primary-atoms of things have colour, those who maintain tliis opin- 
ion will surely not say that certain colours of atoms are peculiar tc 

G 2 

84 LUCRETIUS. B. It. 818—845, 

certain shapes, and since all shapes of seminal-atoms may exist 
with any colour whatsoever, why, if we suppose that senmial- 
atoms, ivhich are of manifold shapes, have colour, are not those 
creatures whicli consist of those seminal-atoms, sprinkled over 
accordingly with all sorts of coloui\s, each in its several kind, 
whatsoever it may be ? For, under this supposition, it might 
be expected that crows, as tliey fly, would often shed forth 
a white colour from white feathers, and that swans, if spring- 
ing perchance from black atoms, would be born black, or, if 
from atoms of any other colour, might be of any other hue 
whatsoever, uniform or varied. 

Moreover, the more any body is divided into small parts, 
the more you can see its colour by degrees die away and be- 
come extinct, as happens when gold is broken into small frag- 
ments. So purple and scarlet, (by far the brightest of colours,) 
when they have been divided thread by tliread, are utterly 
deprived of lustre. So that you may from this infer, that the 
small parts of bodies throw off all colour, before they are re- 
duced to their ultimate-atoms. 

Further, since you grant that all bodies do not emit sound 
or smell, it consequently happens that you do not attribute to 
all bodies sounds or smells. So, since we cannot see all bodies 
with our eyes, we may conceive that certain bodies exist, ivhich 
we do not see, as much destitute of colour as others are free 
from smell, and void of sound ; and that an intelligent mind 
can form a notion of tliese colourless bodies, no less than of 
others which are destitute of other qualities and distinctions. 

But that you may not perchance imagine that primary atoms 
remain void of colour only, they are also, you may understand, 
altogether destitute of heat and cold;' and are understood 
to be barren of sound, and dry of all moisture ; nor do they 

certain shapes of atoms; for example, that all triauffulai- atoms are 
black, all quadrangular atoms hhie, &c., but v.- ill allow that in each 
shape there must be atoms of different colours ; for instance, that 
among triangidar atoms some must be white, some bhick, some of 
intermediate colours. Let us suppose, then, that crows consist 
chiefly of triangular atoms; it would hence follow that crows might 
be born not black, but wliite, or green, or blue, or variegated. But 
this never hap])ens ; atoms are therefore without colour." Lamhinus, 
' Altogether destitute of heat and cohl.] Ver. 844. Secreta teporis 
•«n^ ac frigoris omnino calidiqiie vaporis. 1 have not thought it neces- 
sary to give more than one word for heat ; and have made a similar 
abbreviation in ver. 858 


». 11. 846—867. LUCRETIUS 85 

send out any odour of their own from their substance. Thus 
when you proceed to compound a sweet ointment of ainaracus,' 
and myrrh, and the flower of nard, which breathes nectar to 
the nostrils, it is, in the first place, proper to seek, as far aa 
is convenient, and os far as you may be able to find, the sub- 
stance of inodorous olive oil, which emits no scent to the 
nostrils, that it may, as little as possible, by the infection of 
any strong smell of its own, corrujit the odours mixed and 
digested in its body as a vehicle for them. 

Finally, therefore, it must be granted that the primary-atoms 
of things communicate no odour or sound of their own, to the 
things to be producedyVom them, since they can emit from them- 
selves none of these qualities; nor, in like manner, do they emit 
any savour at all, or cold or heat. Other qualities, moreover^ 
which are such that they are themselves, and in the bodies with 
which they are connected, perishable, as pliancy from soft- 
ness, brittleness from decay, hollowness from tenuity of sub- 
stance, must all, of necessity, be separated from primary-ele- 
ments, if we wish to lay an everlasting foundation for things, 
on which their entire security may rest, that the whole universe 
may not be resolved into nothing. 

And now let me observe that those creatures, whatsoever 
they are that we perceive to have sense, you must necessarily 
acknowledge to consist wholly of senseless atoms.^ Nor do 
manifest appearances,* Avhich are readily observed, refute this 

' Sweet ointment of amaracus, <Sfc.] Ver. 847. Sicut amaracini 
blandum stactceque Uquorem Et nardi florem, nectar qui naribics halat. 
Amaracus is generally understood to be sioeet-marjoram. Stacta is 
liquid myrrh. Nardus is what we call spikenai-d. " Nectar, the sweetest 
of odours ; metaphorically transferred from the taste to the smell." 
Lambimis. — But the simile of the inodorous oil is but an imperfect 
illustration of the position that ultimate particles are without smell; 
for the oil is but the vehicle of the perfumes ; ultimate particles are 
themselves the substance of the perfumes. 

^ Other qualities, moreover, (Sfc.J Ver. 859. He signifies that the 
primary atoms of things must be destitute of all qualities that would 
render them perishable; they must be hard, solid, and unyielding, 
as he shows, i. 501, seq., and elsewhere. 

' And now let me observe -wholly of senseless atoms.] Ver. 865, 

He now proceeds to show that living creatures are formed from 
senseless atoms. 

* Nor do manifest appearances refute this position.l Ver. 867, 

Neque id manifesta refutant. " A common argument of Epiciu'US, 
•I' ftaxtrai roic <paivoukvoiQ." Faber. 

86 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 868—891 

positio??, or in the least oppose it, but rather themselves lead 
us by the hand, as it were, and compel us to believe that ani- 
mals, t/iouf/h possessed of sense, are generated, as I say, from 
atoms without sense. 

For you may observe living worms proceed from foul dung, 
■when the earth, moistened with immoderate showers, has 
contracted a kind of putrescence ; and you may see all other 
things besides change tliemselves, similarly, into other things. 
The rivers turn themselves into leaves of trees ; and the rich 
pastures into cattle ; the cattle change their sul>stance into 
that of our bodies ; and from our bodies the strength of wild 
beasts, and the frames of birds, are often augmented. Nature, 
therefore, changes all kinds of food into living bodies, and 
hence produces all senses of animals in a method not very far 
different from that by tvhich she resolves dry wood into flames, 
and turns all combustible bodies into fire. 

Do you now understand, therefore, that it is of gi'eat im- 
portance in what order the primordial elements of things are 
severally placed, and with what other elements being mingled, 
they give and receive impulses ? 

Besides, what is it that acts upon your mind, what moves 
you, and induces you to express a different opinion, preventing 
you from believing that what is possessed of sense is produced 
from atoms without sense? It is, evidently, this: that stones, 
and wood, and earth,' however mixed together, are neverthe- 
less unable to produce vital sense. 

On tliese subjects, tlien, it will be proper for you to remem- 
ber this principle,^ that I do not say that what has sense, or 
that senses themselves, are of course^ produced from all atoms in 
general, whatsoever generate things ; but that it is of great im- 
portance, in the first place, of what size those atoms are which 

' Stones, and wood, and earth, Ac.] Ver. 889. You say that be- 
cause a mixture of such lifeless substances as stones, wood, &c., 
cannot produce sensible beings, therefore insensible atoms cannot 
give rise to sensible beings. 

2 It will be proper for you to remember this principle.] Ver. 891. 
JVud in his icjitiir frrdus tneminisse dccebit. I have translated fcedus 
" princii)le," but the reading ought doubtless to be lUud in his 
igitur rebus, \\\\\A\ Lambinus suggested, and which Lachniann has 

' Of course.] Ver. 893. Extemplo. Forthwith, readily, withoiU 

n. II. 895-911. LUCRETIUS. »< 

are to produce a being of sense, and with what shape they 
are distinguished ; and, in the next place, what they are in 
their movements, arrangements, and positions ; of which par- 
ticulars, we, from our imperfect perceptions, see nothing take 
phxce in wood and clods ; and yet these, when they are as it 
were rendered putrescent by rain, produce worms, and for 
this reason, because the atoms of matter, being driven from 
their former arrangements by some new impulse, are combined 
in such a manner as makes it indispensable for animals to be 

Besides, when philosophers determine that a being which has 
sense can be produced only from atoms endowed with sense, 
they forthwith, accustomed to adopt opinions from others, 
make those atoms soft ; for all sense is connected with viscera, 
nerves, veins, and whatever soft substances we see exist and 
grow in a mortal body. 

But let it be supposed, for a moment, that these atoms, of 
which animals consist, may, though sensible and soft, remain 
eternal. They must then, however, either have sense as parts 
of animals,'^ or be thought similar to whole animals. But it 
cannot be that as parts they have sense of themselves, for every 
part and member, if separated from the body, breaks off con- 
nexion with the other senses of the other members ;^ nor can 

' Must— either have sense as parts of ««"««?«, ^r.] Ver. 908. Seii- 
aum partis habere. " Talem sensum habebunt, qualem habent par- 
tes." Lambinus. — Or be thought similar to whole animals.]_ Aut 
similes totis animalibus esse 2nitari. What similes is to agree with, is 
not very clear; Wakefield, whose reading it is, says venas et nervos; 
but it ought to agree with jmmordia, (conip. ver. 916,) or to refer to 
the priinordia in some way. Lambinus and Creech read similia. 
Lachmann has given, Aut simili totis animalibus (scilicet sensu) esse 

^ For every part and member, if separated from the body, breaks off 
connexion with the other senses of the other members.] Ver. 911. 
Namque alios scnsus memhrorum respuit omnis. I have translated this 
line according to the interpretation of Lambinus : omnis " pars a 
loto separata, alianim omnium partium suarum sensus rejicit ac re- 
spuit." But the reading can hardly be sound. Gifanius proposed 
namque alifim sensus membrorum res petit omnis, which Havercamp 
admitted into the text. Lachmann gives something different: 
"Quid poeta voluerit," says he, " dul)ium esse non potest; negat 
enim membra singula seorsum sentiri posse, quippe quae ad aliud 
refcrantur, hoc est, ad aninuim : neque hoc difficile est ex verbis 
Icviter corruptis extundere : namque a\w sensus tne mbror urn zespicit 
omnis." This is not very satisfactory. 

88 LUCRETIUS. E. II. 912—935. 

the hand, when dissevered from us, nor any part of the body 
whatsoever, retain alone the sense of the whole body. It re- 
mains, therefore, that they must resemble whole animals, so 
that they may be animated with vital sense throughout. But 
how, then, will it be possible for them to be called the element-s 
of things, and avoid the paths to death, when they arc of an 
animal nature, and, existing themselves in pei'ishable animals, 
are one and the same %vitfi them ? 

Yet iftve alloiv tliat primordial atoms, though imperishable, 
may nevertheless he endowed ivith sense, they will necessarily 
in that case produce nothing but a crowd and multitude of 
animals; just as men, cattle, and wild beasts, would be un- 
able to pi'oduce by combination sevprally among themselves, 
any thing hut men, cattle, and wild beasts. How then could 
things inanimate, as trees and metals, he produced? It is 
only on this supposition, accordingly,' {viz. that they can ge^ 
nerate ?iothing hut sentient beings,) that we sliould be obliged, 
as far as we see, to allotc primordial-atoms to be sentient. 

But if, perhaps, you say that the primordial-atoms, being, 
as you think, sentient, lay aside, in combination, their own 
proper sense, and take another, what need was there, in that 
case, that that should be assigned to them, which is afterwards 
taken away ? And besides, to recur to an illustration to 
which we had recourse before, inasmuch as we see eggs of 
animals changed into birds, and woi-ms spring forth when a 
kind of putrescence, from immoderate rains, has affected the 
ground, we know that animals having senses may be produced 
from objects without senses. 

But if any one, perchance, shall say that sentient-beings 
may certainly- arise from senseless atoms, but that this must he 
effected by some change ivhich takes place in those atoms, as 
from some new birth, before the sentient being which they con- 
stitute is brought forth into existence, it will be sufficient to 
explain and prove to him, that no birth ever takes place, un- 
less from some combination previously formed, and that no 

' It is only on this supposition, accordingly, A^.] Ver. 923. Sic 
itidem, qua scntimus, scntire necesse est. This verse appeared so inex- 
plicable to Lambinus, that he struck it out; and Lachniann has 
done the same. The sense which 1 have given to it, is taken from 

- Certainly.] Ver. 931, Duntaxat. See Scheller's Lexicon. And 
conip. ii. 122. 

B. II. 936-962. LUCRETIUS. 89 

CHANGE is effected without a combination of primordial -atoms ; 
for no senses of any animal body can exist before the substance 
itself of the animal is formed ; and this is evident, inasmuch 
as senseless matter is kept dispersed throughout the air, rivers, 
earth, and things produced from the earth ; nor, though it may 
have united,' has it so united as to engender in itself tliose con- 
cordant vital motions, by which the all-observing senses of ani- 
mals being generated, (^2>ec^ awe? preserve every living creature. 

Besides, a blow inflicted, j/* heavier^ than nature co?i endure, 
strikes down any animal at once, and has the effect of con- 
founding all sense of the body and of the mind ; for the posi- 
tions and connexions of the atoms are dissolved, and the vital 
motions are utterly impeded ; until at last the matter of the 
bodi/, suffering concussion in every member, unlooses from 
the body the vital ties of the soul, and drives it forth, scat- 
tered abroad, through every outlet. For what more can we 
suppose that an inflicted blow can do, than shake to pieces 
and dissolve the several elements that were previously united? 

It also happens, that when a blow is inflicted with less vio- 
lence, the remains of vital motion often prevail ; pi'evail, 1 
say, over the effects of it, and calm the violent disorders occa- 
sioned b*< the stroke, and recall every thing again into its 
proper Ci-.Hnnel ; and thus dispel, as it were, the movement of 
death, when asserting-its-power in the body, and revive tlie 
senses when almost lost and overcome. For under what in- 
fluence, if not uyider this revival of the sentient motions, can 
bodies return to life, the mind being re-established,^ even from 
the very threshold of dissolution, rather than depart and pass 
away to the bourne to which they had almost accomplished 
their course ? 

» Nor, though it may have united, ^c.] Ver. 942. Nee congressa 
modo. " That is, si modo sit coHf/ressa ; si hoc etiam eveniat." Wake- 
fieJd. Lucretius means to say tliat there is abundance of matter for 
producing animals dispersed throughout the earth, ^c., but which 
has not yet combined to produce vital motions. 

- Besides, a blow inflicted, if heavier, Ifc.] Ver. 944. The argu- 
ment is this: Atoms are senseless, and animal sense depends solely 
on their arrangement; for, if that arrangement be disturbed by a 
blow, the animal may at once be rendered senseless; and, ii it re- 
cover from the shock, it may suffer much pain. This argument 
extends to ver. 972. 

' The mind being re-established.] Ver. 961. Conject& mente. "The 
mind collecting itself into the most vital parts." Wakejield, 

90 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 963—995. 

Furthermore, since pain happens when the principles of 
matter in any living bodi/, disturbed by any force throughout 
the viscera or the limbs, are agitated in their situati'^ns with- 
m, and driven from their proper places ; and since an agree- 
able pleasure succeeds when they return into their places ; it 
is but right to infer, that primordial-atoms can be affected 
with no pain, and enjoy no pleasure, of themselves ; for they, 
being primary bodies, do not consist of those combinations of 
primary-bodies, the motions of which suffer pain, or receive 
enjoyment of gentle pleasure, from alteration. Primordial 
atoms, therefore, must not be considered as endowed with 
any sense wJiatever. 

Besides, if, in order that animals may severally have sense, 
sense is also to be attributed to their primary-elements, then, 
forsooth, the elements of which the human race is peculiarly 
constituted, both laugh, shaking their sides ^ with tremulous 
cachinnation, and sprinkle their faces and cheeks with distil- 
ling tears ; they, moreover, can tell much of the mixture of 
bodies, and inquire, besides, what are their own elements. 
For, as they resemble entire men, compounded of elements, 
they themselves must also be compounded of other elements ; 
and these others m%ist be composed of others again, so that, 
reckoning thus, you would never make a stop, but go on to in- 
finity. For I shall pursue the argument, and demand that 
whatever you shall admit to speak, and laugh, and under- 
stand, must consist of other elements exercising the same 
powers. But if we plainly see such reasoning to be absurd 
and insane ; and if a being can laugh that is compounded 
of elements which do not laugh, and can understand, and 
render a reason in intelligible words, though he be not com- 
pounded of intelligent and eloquent seminal-principles, why 
may not all those creatures which we observe to be sentient 
around us, be compounded of seminal-atoms wholly destitute 
of sense ? 

Finally, we are all sprung from celestial seed ; the father 
of all is the same .ether, from Avhich, when the bountiful 
earth has received the liquid drops of moisture, she, being 
impregnated, produces the rich crops and the joyous groves, 
and the race of men ; produces all the tribes of beasts ; since 

' Laugh, shaking their sides, Arc] Ver. 97(5. See i. 918. 

B. II. 996-1022. LUCRETIUS. 91 

she supplies them food, by means of which they all support 
their bodies, and lead a pleasant life, and propagate offspring ; 
on which account she has justly obtained the name of IMotlier. 
That, also, which first arose from the earth, returns back into 
the earth ; and that which was sent down from the regions of 
the sky, the regions of the sky again receive when carried back 
to them ; nor does death so put an end to things as to destroy 
the atoms of matter, but only disunites their combinations, 
and produces new unions of pai'ticles, and is the cause that 
all things so change their forms, and vary their colours, and 
receive perception, and in a moment of time yield it up again. 
So that you may understand it to be of the greatest import- 
ance with what elements, and in what position a7id connexion, 
the same primordial-atoms of things are combined, and Avhat 
impulses they mutually give and receive ; (nor suppose that 
the primary particles of tilings cannot remain eternal, because 
we see them fluctuate upon the surface of things, and some- 
times apparentli/ born and suddenly perish ;) as even in these 
very verses of mine it is of great consequence with what 
letters, and in what order, other letters are severally placed ; 
for the same letters, variousli/ selected and combined, signify 
heaven, sea, earth, rivers, sun ; the same signify corn, groves, 
animals ; if the toords are not all, yet by far the greater part 
are, alike,' at least so far as to have some letter or letters in 
common; but the subjects which they express are distinguished 
l^y the different arrangements of the letters to form the words. 
So likewise even in things themselves, when the intervals, 
passages, connexions, weights, impulses, collisions, move- 
ments, order, position, and configurations of the atoms of 
matter are interchanged, the things which are formed from 
them must also be changed. 

1 If the words are not all, yet by far the greater part are, alike, 
<5rc.] Ver. 1017. Si noii omnia sint, at muUo maxima pars est Consimilis. 
1 have translated this according to Wakefield's exposition : " literae 
eredem, plures paucioresve, in verbis lonijfe pluribus inveniiintur." 
But I am not quite sure tliat this sense can fairly be extracted from 
it. Creech's interpretation is, " Si non omnes sunt eitjdem literae, 
at multo maxima pars eadem est," which can scarcely be thought 
intended to throw light on the subject. Lachmann seems to refer 
omnia to verba, but gives no furtlier illustration. Other commenta- 
tors and translators afford no help whatsoever. 

^ LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 1023-1050 

Give your attention now, closely,' to the conclusions of just 
reasoning, from what toe have previoush/ stated. For a new 
doctrine presses earnestly to approach your ear, and a new 
scene of things to display itself. But neither is any thing so 
easy, or credible, as that it may not seem rather ditBcult of be- 
lief at first ; nor, likewise, is there any thing so great, or any 
thing so admirable at first, at which all men alike do not by- 
degrees less and less wonder. 

In the first place, consider the bright and pure colour of 
the sky, and that which the stars, wandering in all directions, 
contain in themselves, and the resplendency, from brilliancy 
of light, of the moon and the sun ; all whicli objects, if they 
were now first apparent to mortal eyes ; if they were, I say, 
note first presented to them unexpectedly and suddenly, what 
could be mentioned, which loould be more wonderful than 
these phenomena, or which the nations of the xoorld could 
less presume, beforehand, to believe would exist ? Nothing, 
as I conceive ; so wonderful to men would this scene of things 
have been, for the sake of which no man, you may observe, 
now deigns to look up to the bright regions of the sky, every 
one being listless from satiety of viewing it. Wherefore for- 
bear, through being alarmed at mere novelty, to reject any 
argument or opinion from your mind, but rather weigh it 
with severe judgment, and, if it seem to you to be just, yield 
your assent to it ; or, if it be false, gird up your loins to op- 
pose it. For, since the sum of space, abroad beyond these 
walls of our world, is, as I have proved, infinite, my mind 
proceeds to make inquiry what there exists farther onwards, 
in t/iose parts into which the mind perpetually longs to look, 
and into which the free eiFort of thought itself earnestly- 
desires to penetrate. 

The first point tvhich I advance is, that in every direction 
around us, and on all sides, above and below, there is no limit 
through the whole of space, as / myself have demonstrated, 
and as truth itself spontaneously proclaims, and the nature of 

' Give your attention now, closely, ^c] Ver. 1023. Nunc animum 
nobis adhibe, &c. Being now about to assert that there are many 
worlds, and that they are born and perish ; a doctrine which many 
might be slow to believe ; he does not think fit to advance it without 
gravely demanding the attention of the reader. 

B. II. 10.51-1080. LUCRETIUS. 93 

the profound itself makes clear as light. But by no means 
can it be thought probable, when infinite space lies open in 
every quarter, and lohen seminal-atoms, of incomputable 
number and unftithomable sum, driven about by everlasting 
motion, fly through the void in infinite ways, that this one 
globe of the earth, and this one heaven, have been alone pro- 
duced ; and that those innumerable particles of matter do 
nothing beyond our sphere ; especially when this world was 
made by merely natural-causes, and the atoms of things jost- 
ling about' of their own accord in infinite modes, often brought 
together confusedly, ineffectually, and to no purpose, at length 
successfully coalesced ; — at least such of them as, thrown to- 
gether suddenly, became in succession^ the beginnings of great 
things, of the earth, the sea, the heaven, and the race of ani- 
mals. For which reason, it is irresistibly incumbent on you 
to admit, that there are other combinations of matter in other 
places, such as is this world, which the ether holds in its vast 

Further, when abundance of matter is ready, and space is 
at hand, and when no object or cause hinders or delays, things 
must necessarily be generated ^ and brought into being. 
And now, if there is such a vast multitude of seminal-atoms 
as the whole age of all living creatures would not sufliice to 
number, and if there remains the same force and nature, that 
can throw together the atoms of things into every part in the 
same manner as they have been thrown together into this, 
you must necessarily suppose that there are other orbs of earth 
in other regions of space, and various races of men and gener- 
ations of beasts. 

To this is to be added, that in the whole of our ivorld there 
is no one thing which is pi'oduced single, and grows up alone 
and by itself, but that every thing is of some class, and that 
there are many individuals in the same kind. Thus, among 
animals especially, you will, by your own observation/ see this 

' .Jostling about.] Ver. 1059. Forte offensando. 

^ Became in succession.] Ver. 1062. Fierent semper. From time 
to time. 

' Generated.] Ver. 1069. Geri. Properly, camerf o«. Lambinus 
read geni. 

* By your own observation.] Ver. 1080. Indice mente. " By the 
observation of your mind ; — if you attend to the suggestions and ad- 
monitions of reason." Wakejield. 

94 . LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 1081—1110. 

to be the case as to the brood of wild beasts that ran^e over 
the mountains ; you will find the same as to the race of men, 
male and female ;' the same, moreover, as to the mute swarms 
of fishes, and all the kinds of birds. Wherefore it is to be 
admitted, that, in like manner, the heaven, and the earth, and 
the sun, the moon, the sea, and other things which exist, are 
not single, but rather of infinite number ; since these follow 
the same general law"^ as other things that arise and decay ; 
the limit of existence, deeply and unalterably fixed, awaits 
these parts of nature as well as others, and they consist as 
much of a natural body, generated but to die, as the whole 
race of animals which abound, in their several kinds, in this 
state of things. 

Which i^oints if, being well understood, you keep in mind, 
and reason from them, the system of nature immediately ap- 
pears, as a free agent, released from tyrant masters, to do 
every thing itself of itself spontaneously, Avithout the help of 
the gods. For (0 ye sacred bosoms of the deities, that pass in 
tranquil peace a calm and most serene existence ! ) avIio is able 
to rule the whole of this immense universe'? Who can hold in 
liis hand, with power to guide them, the strong reins of this 
vast combination of things ? Wliat god can, at the same time, 
turn round all the heavens, and warm all the earth with ethereal 
fires ? Or what god can be, at the same moment, present in all 
places, to produce darkness with clouds, and shake the calm 
regions of heaven with thunder, and then to hurl bolts, and 
overturn, as often happens, his own temples ; or afterwards, 
retiring to the desert and uninhabited parts of the earth, to 
rage there, exercising that weapon with which he often misses 
the guilty, and kills the innocent and undeserving ? 

And after the time when the world was produced, and the 
natal day of the sea, and tlie rise of the eartli and the sun, 
atoms were added from without ; seeds, which the vast whole, 
by agitation, contributed, were conjoined ; whence the sea and 
the earth had the means of increase, and whence the mansion 
of the sky amplified its vastness, and raised its lofty vaults far 
above tlie earth, and the air rose higher and liigher. For to 

' Race of men, male and female.] Ver. 1082. ITominum (jeminam 
prolem. " Utniinque sexum." Creech. W. ffenitani proletn. 

* Since (Jiese fulluio the same gener.-l law, Sfc.'\ Ver. 1087. In intro« 
ducing these words, I follow Lambinus's elucidation. 

B. II. 1111—1138. LUCRETIUS. 9*^ 

every body m nature, from all regions of space, are con- 
tributed, by the agitation of particles, its own proper atoms, and 
they betake themselves severally to their own kinds of mat- 
ter; the particles of moisture pass to water ; the earth is in- 
creased with atoms of earth ; and the fiery-principles produce 
fire, and the aerial air ; until, as such operations proceeded, 
nature, the perfectress and parent of the world, brought all 
things to the utmost limit of growth ; as happens wlien that 
which is received into the vital passages, is no more in quan- 
tity than that which flows away and passes off. In tliese cir- 
cumstances, the age and groivth of all beings ' must be at a 
stand ; here nature, by her own influence, restrains further 

For whatsoever creatures you see enlarge themselves to a 
full and lively bull:, and climb, by degrees, the steps to a 
mature age, receive into themselves more atoms than they 
emit ; whilst the nourishment is readily distributed through 
the veins, and whilst their bodies are not so widely dilated ^ as 
to expel many, that is, a disproportionate number of particles, 
and to cause the waste to be greater than the food on which 
their life sustains itself. For certainly we must admit that 
many atoms flow off and pass away from bodies ; but, till they 
have reached the highest point of growth, more ought to 
accrue to them. From that point, age reduces by degrees 
their mature force and strengtli, and melts away and sinks 
down to its decline. Since the larger any creature is, at the 
time when its increase is stopped, and the greater is its extent 
of surface, the more atoms it disperses,^ and emits from itself, 
in all directions around ; nor is the whole of its food readily 
distributed through its veins ; nor is there sufiicient nourish- 
ment generated from\\\Q food, in proportion to theefliuvia which 
the body discharges,"* whence as mucii support as is necessary 

' In these circumstances, the ap^e and growth of all beings, Ac.] 
Ver. 1120. Omnibus his (etas debet consistere rebus. I do not consider 
ihatomnibus agrees with rebus, but that it is in the dative case, and 
his rebus in the ablative. In four MSS. Lainbiniis found 0/nnibics 
hie, &;c., which will give the same sense, though omnibus be then re- 
garded as agreeing with rebus. 

^ Dilated.] Ver. 112G. Dispersa. " Dilatata." Creech. 

^ The greater is its extent of surface, the more atoms it dis- 
perses.] Ver. \l3i. Quo latior est, I'lura modo dispenjit. 'Quo 

modo latior est, eo modo plura dispergit." Wakefield. 

* In proportion to the efHuvia which the body discharges.] \'er. 

96 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 1139—1161 

can ariee and be supplied to it,^ and xohence nature can recruit 
what is roqiiisito. Bodies, therefore, naturally decay, as they 
are wasted by their substance passing off, and as all things 
yield to external attacks ; for food at last fails to svpport ad- 
vanced age ; and hostile atoms, striking externally, cease not 
to exhaust every creature, and subdue it with assaults. 

So likewise the walls of the gi'eat world, being assailed 
around, shall suffer decay, and fall into mouldering ruins. 
For, if things are kept in vigour, it is nourishment that must 
recruit them all by renewal ; and it is nourishment that must 
support, nourishment that must sustain all. But it is in vain 
to expect that this frame of the tvorld ivill last for ever ; for 
neither do its veins, so to speak, submit to receive what is suf- 
ficient for its maintenance, nor does nature minister as much 
aliment as is needed. 

And thus, even now, the age of the tvorld is debilitated, and 
the earth, which produced all races of creatures, and gave 
forth, at a birth, vast forms of wild animals, noio, being ex- 
hausted, scarcely rears a small and degenerate offspring. The 
earth, I say, which produced all creatures; for it was not, as 
I conceive, a golden chain from above ^ that let down the tribes 
of mortals from heaven into the fields; nor did the sea, or the 
waves that beat the rocks, produce them ; but the same earth, 
which now nourishes them from her own substance, genei-ated 
them at first. 

Moreover the earth herself, of her own accord, first pro- 
duced for mortals rich crops and joyous vineyards ; she her- 
self supplied sweet herbs over the abundant pastures, which 
now scarcely reach-a-full-growth,^ though assisted and aug- 

1137. J^ro qitam largos exeestuat aestus. Proqxiam is rare. It occura 
again iii. 200. 

' Whence as much siif,^ort as is necessary, ^c.'] Ver. 1138. Und« 
queant tantum suhoriri ac suppecUtm-e. "Qiieant, sc. corpora," says 
Wakefield, Otlievs read queat, which is more satisfactory. Vnde, 
whence, i. e. from the food. 

^ Golden cliain from above.] Ver. 1155. "All creatures, I say, 
sprung from the earth; for living things were not, as the assertors 
of a providence aftirm, let down from heaven by that golden chain 
which none but Homer ever saw (II. ix. 18) ; nor were they generated 
from the sea and its waves ; but the eartli, which now nourishes all 
things, originally produced all things." Faher. 

' Scarcely reach-a-full-growth.] Ver. 1161. Vix grandcscitnt. This 
eomplamt of the decay and degeneracy of things has been common 

B. II. 1162— 1175. LUCRETIUS. 97 

mented by our toil. We both wear out our oxen and exhaust 
the strength of our husbandmen, being scarcely supplied icith 
fruits from our slowly-yielding fields. To such a degree do 
the productions of the earth decline, and increase onhj with 
human labour. And in these days the sturdy ploughman, 
shaking his head, sighs that his great toil has too often fallen 
out in vain ; and, when he compares the present times to the 
times past, frequently praises the good-fortune of his fore- 
father. The planter of the degenerate vine, also, sad and 
fatigued, accuses the progress of time, and wearies heaven with 
prayers for better seasons; and often remarks how the an- 
cient race of men, full of piety, spent their lives happily^ within 
narrow limits, when the portion of land, cultivated formerly 
by each individual, was much less than at present; nor does 
his untaught mind understand that all things, exhausted by a 
long course of time, gradually waste awa}- and pass to their 

to poets from Homer downwards. Johnson ridicules it in his Life 
of Milton. 

' Spent their lives happily.] Ver. 1172. Perfacitc—tolerarit — mvom, 
" Beati viverent ; as in Terence, Quam vos facile vivitis ! and in Home? 
II. vii. 138, pkia C^ovres is applied to the gods," Faber. 



HaWng, in the first two books, treated of the nature and qualities of atonus, 
Lucretius proceeds, in the four following books, to speak of what is fornu d 
from those atoms. He occupies the third book with a description of the nA 
ture of the mind and the soul, commencing (ver. 1 — 13j with a eulogy ou 
Epicurus, who taught that the world was formed, not by any divine power, 
but from a fortuitous concourse of atoms, and who succeeded, beyond any 
other pliilosopher, in relieving the minds of men from the fear of the gods, 
of death, and of tomieuts after death, ver. 14 — 40. Many who pretend to be 
free from this fear, are stUl disquieted with it ; and it is often the source of 
crimes, ver. 41 — 93. He then shows that the mind and soul are a part of 
man, not less than the hand or foot, and not a mere harmony of the parts 
of the body, as some philosophers taught, ver. 94 — 106. Reasons on the 
separate affections of the body and mind, on sleep, on corporeal mutila- 
tions, and on the cessation of breathing, ver. 107 — 137. Uses the terms 
mind and soul indiscriminately, yet .shows that the mind (ct7iimits) is the 
chief part, residing in the middle of the breast, the soul {animn) being 
diffused throughout the body, and under the direction of the mind, ver. 
138 — 161. That this mind, and soul, are corporeal, acting on the body by 
material impact, and consisting of minute atoms, imperceptible to the 
senses, ver. 161 — 231. That the substance of the soul and mind is not 
simple, but composed of four subtle consistences, heat, air, aura, and a 
fourth, to which no name is given, ver. 232 — 323. That the soul and body 
cannot be separated without destruction to both ; and that the sentient 
power is not contincxl to the soul, ver. 324 — 370. He then refutes the 
opinion of Democritus, who thought that the soul and body had corre- 
spondent parts, ver. 371 — 396. Shows that the preservation of "life depends 
more on the mind than on the soul,Ter. 397 — 417. Afterwards he demon- 
strates, by twenty strict arguments, and six additional observations, that 
the soul perishes with the body, ridiculing, by the way, the Pythagorean 
transmigration, ver. 418 — 841. Hence ho observes, that, as death is the 
end of man, nothing is to be feared after it ; that it cannot be in itself an 
evil, because the dead can regret nothing that they have left ; and that 
prolongation of life is not to be desired, as it would furnish nothing but 
what has been already enjoyed, ver. 842 — 988. Says that all the Tarta- 
rean sufferings which arc dreaded after death, are witnessed and endured 
i in life, ver. 989 — 1036. Consoles mankind, by obsci-ving that the best men 
t died as well as the worst, and exhorts them to contemplate death 
I with reason and calmness, ver. 1037 — 1088. Concludes with a few more 
I: moral reflections to the same purpose, ver. 1089 — 1107. 

n M 

100 LUCRETIUS. fi in. i— 24 

O thou, who, from so great darkness, wast first able to 
raise so eifulgent a light, shedding-a-lustre-on the blessings of 
life, thee, glory of the Greelv nation, I follow, and now place 
the steps of 7ny feet formed upon thy impressed traces,' yet not 
because I am so eager to rival, as because, from the love which 
I feel for thee, I desire to imitate thee. For why should the 
swallow contend with swans ? Or what, that is all similar, 
can kids, with trembling limbs, and the strong vigour of the 
horse, perform in the race ? Thou, O father, art the dis- 
coverer of truths ;2 thou suppliest to us paternal precepts, and 
from thy writings, O illustrious teacher, as bees gather ^ from 
all blossoms in the flowery glades, so Ave feed upon thy golden 
words ; golden, / say, and most worthy of perpetual existence. 

For as soon as thy system of jjhilosophy began to proclaim 
aloud the nature of things, as it arose in thy divine intel- 
lect,'* the terrors of the mind disperse ; the walls of the world 
open ; I see things conducted throughout the mighty void of 
space; the calm divinity of the gods '' appears, and their ivan- 
quil abodes, which neither winds disturb, nor clouds sprinkle 
with sliowers, nor snow falling white, congealed with sliarp 
frost, inconveniences ; ^ but the pure air is always cloudless, 
and smiles with widely effulgent light." To them, moreover, 
nature supplies all things, nor does any cause, at any time, 
diminish the tranquillity of their minds. But the regions of 

• Steps of my feet formed upon thy impressed traces.] Ver. 4. 
Ficta pedum pono 2»-cssis vesfiffia sigrnis. " Ponoque vestigia pedum 
(i. e. sola pedum) ficta (i. e. se fingentia,) effigiata, deformata, in 
tuis signis, vel signis tiiorum pedum." Wakefield. 

Discoverer of truths.] V'ev. 9. Renim inventor. "Philosophise 


auctor, founder of true philosophj'." Creech. 

' As bees gather.] V^er. 11. Limaiit. This is adopted by Wake- 
field in the sense of decetpunt, delibant, " cull, gather." Others, with 
Lachniann, read lihant. 

* TAy divine intellect.] Ver. 15. Divinu mente coortam. This is the 
reading of Wakefield, referring to the mind of Epicurus ; Lambinus 
and his followers read haud divirnJ mente, that is, not from the mind 
of the gods. 

* Calm divinity of the gods.] See i. 6i6 — 6ol. 

* Inconveniences.] Ver. 21. Violat. I hesitated what word to 
choose for this, and took one of the mildest that I could find. Creech 
has invades, but this is no proper sense of the word. 

' Efli'ulgent light.] \'er. 22. Diffusa lumine. See i. 9. 

B. III. 2.5—53. LUCRETIUS. 101 

Acheron, on the other hand, are no where apparent ; nor does 
the dark earth hinder but that all things, whatever are done 
beneath our feet throughout the void, may be seen and con- 
templated. Under the influence of these wonders disclosed 
there, a certain divine pleasure and dread penetrates me ; 
amazed that nature, thus manifestly displayed by thy power, 
has been in all parts revealed to us. 

And since I have shown ' of what kind the primordial atoms 
of all things are, and how, diflfering in their various forms, 
and actuated by motion from all eternity, they fly throngh the 
void of space of their own accord ;2 and since I have also de- 
monstrated by what means all individual things may be pro- 
duced from them ; the nature of the mind and of the soul now 
seems, next to these subjects, proper to be illustrated in my 
verses ; and there must be driven utterly from our minds ^ that 
fear of Acheron, which disturbs human life from its very 
foundation, suff'using all things with the blackness of death, 
nor allows any pleasure to be pure and uncontaminated. 

For as to what men often say, that diseases, and a life of 
infamy, are more to be feared than Tartarus, the successor of 
death ; and that they know the consistence of the soul to be 
of the nature of blood, or even of breath, (if their inclination 
happen to lead, them to such an opinion,) and have no need 
at all of our reasoning and instruction; you may perceive, 
for the reasons that follow,-* that all these observations are 
thrown out more for the sake of praise and vain-glory, than 
because the belief itself is settled in their minds; for the very 
same boasters, exiled from their country, and driven far from 
the sight of men, disgraced with foul guilt, and afflicted with 
all calamities, yet still continue to live ; and whithersoever, 
notwithstanding, the unhappy men have come, they oifer sa- 
crifices to the dead, as if their souls were still in existence, and 
immolate black cattle, and send oblations to the Dii Manes, 

' And since I have shown, «rc.] Ver. 31. " Having, in the first and 
second books, stated many particulars concerning atoms, and their 
figures and motions, he now proposes an exact discussion concern- 
ing the soul, with a view to deliver men from the fear of death and 
of punishment after death." Creech. 

* Of their own accord.] Ver 33. i. e. By their own weight. 

' Driven utterly from our minds.] Ver. 37. Praceps agundua, 
" Elliptically for in prceceps, as \? i)i prcecipitium." Wakc/ield. 

* For the reasons that follow.] Ver. 46, Hinc. 

102 LUCRETIUS. b, in. 54-«2. 

and, in their calamitous circumstances, apply their minds 
much more zealously to religion than before. For which rea- 
son, it is more satisfactory to contemplate a person, in order 
to judge of his character, in doubtful dangers, and to learn 
wliat he is in adverse circumstances ; since words of truth 
are then at last elicited from the bottom of the heart, and the 
mask is taken away, 7chile the reality of the man remains. 

Furthermore, avarice, and the blind desire of honours, 
which drive men to transgress the bounds of right, and some- 
times, as tlie accomplices and ministers of crimes, to strive 
night and day, with excessive labour, to rise to the height of 
power ; these passions, I say, ivhich are the wounds and 
plagues of life, are nourished for the most part by the dread 
of death. For, in general, infamous contempt, and sharp po- 
verty, seem removed from a pleasing and secure state of life, 
and seem to dwell, as it were, before the very gates of de- 
struction. From which cause, while men, not submitting U 
die to avoid those evils, 6m^ restrained by a false terror of death 
and its consequences, wish that they may escape far, and re- 
move themselves to a distance, /Vom disgrace and want, they 
increase their property with civil bloodshed, and greedily double 
their riches, heaping slaughter on slaughter ; they cruelly re- 
joice at the sad end of a brother, and hata and dread the 
tables ' of their relations. 

From the same terror,^ in like manner, envy often wastes 
men away ; they grieve that he who walks before them in 
shining honour, should be powerful, should be looked upon 
ivith respect; they complain that they themselves are tossed 
about in obscurity and dishonour.^ Some pine to death for 
tlie sake of statues and a name, and often to such a degree 
from the fear of death, does the hatred of life, and of seeing 
the light, aflfect men, that with a despairing mind, they com- 
mit self-murder ;"* forgetting that this fear is the source of all 

' Dread the tables, SfC.'] Ver. 73. Through feai* of poison. 

"^ From the same terror.] Ver. 74. If men were not afraid of 
suicide, they might escape from the sight of all that disquiets them. 

' Tossed about in obscuritj" and dishonour.] Ver. 77. In tenebris 
volvi aenoque. In darkness and in dirt. 

* To such a degree, commit self-murder.] Ver. 79, seq. " This 

strange and inconsistent effect of fear is well commented upon in 
the following verses of Butler; who tells us that it will often 
Do things not contrary alone 
To th' force of nature, but its own; 

B. III. 83— 98. LUCRETIUS. 103 

cares ; ' that this violates modesty, that this bursts the bonds 
of friendship ; this, in fine, prompts mortals to overthrow 
piety and virtue. For men have often betrayed their country, 
and their dear parents, while seeking to avoid the reo-ions of 
Acheron. Since as children tremble,^ and fear every thincr in 
thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear sometimes things which 
are not more to be feared than those which children dread, 
and imagine about to happen, in the dark. This terror of 
the mind, therefore, it is not the rays of the sun, or the 
bright arrows of day, that must dispel, but the contemplation 
of nature, and the exercise of reason. 

First, then, I say, that the mind,^ which we often call the 
intellect, in which is placed the conduct and government of 
life, is not less an integral part of man himself, than the hand, 
and foot, and eyes, are portions of the whole animal. 

Although, indeed, a great number of philosophers have 

• • • « « 
For men as resolute appear 
With too much as too little fear ; 
And when they're out of hopes of flying, 
Will run awav from death by dying." Good, 

Men, rather th^n live perpetually in fear of the worst, dare the 

' Forgetting that this fear is the source, >§rc.] Ver- 82. Ohliti fotv- 
tem curarum hunc esse timorem. Forgetful that if they were but to 
free themselves from this unreasonable dread of death, and of suffer- 
ings after death, they need not, under any circumstances, be ha- 
rassed with cares, or driven to crime, to preserve a miserable 
existence, but might either terminate their lives at once, without 
apprehension of consequences, or might endure their afflictions 
with resolute submission, satisfied that there would be nothing worse 
to come beyond what they would imdcrgo in this world, and that they 
might securely withdraw from their troubles whenever they might 
think fit. 

^ Since, as children tremble, S^c^ Ver. 88. These lines are takeu 
from ii. 55, seq. , and Lucretius was so \vell pleased with them that they 
are repeated again, vi. 35. " Men fear death," says Bacon, (Essay 
ii-) " as children fear to go into the dark ; and as that natural fear 
in children is increased with tales, so is the other." 

' First, then, I say that the mind, *c-] Ver. O-l. Primum animum 
dico, fneniem quern scepe vocamus. In quo consilium vita regitnenque loca- 
tuia »st, Esse hotninis partem. Being now about to s])eak of the mind 
aijd soul, his first assertion is, that the mind (animus), which we 
often call the intellect (mens), and which is the director of life, ia 
not less apart of its than the hand or foot. 

1^>^ LUCRETIUS. n. in. 99— 119. 

thought that the sense of the mind is not placed in any cer- 
tain part, but is a kind of vital habit or resulting power of 
the body, (called by the Greeks a harmony,)' which causes 
us to live endowed with a mental sense, though the mind is 
situate in no particular part of us. As, frequently, when 
good health is said to be a sensation of the body, and yet this 
health is itself do portion o£ the person that enjoys health ; so 
those philosophers place the sense oC the mind in no particular 
part of the person. In which hypothesis they seem to wander 
far astray. For frequently the body, which is openly seen, 
is diseased and dejected, while we nevertheless feel pleasure^ 
in the other part, which is hid within us; and on the other 
hand again, it often happens that the reverse is the case, when 
he who is wretched in mind is well in his whole body; just 
in the same way as if, when the foot of a sick man is pained, 
his head, in the mean time, happen to be in no pain at all. 
Besides, when the limbs are resigned to gentle sleep, and the 
body, heavy ivith slumber, lies stretched without sense, there 
is yet something else within us, which, at that very time, is 
agitated in diverse ways, and admits into itself all the affec- 
tions of joy, and all the empty solicitudes of the heart. 

And now, also, that you may ho, further convinced that the 
soul is actually one among our members,^ and is not wont to 
hold or occupy the body as a harmony,* it happens in the first 

' Harmony.] Ver. 101. Many however have thouorht otherwise, 
and some have considered the mind to be a mei'e effect of the ar- 
rangement and combination of the particles of the body; among 
whom was Aristoxenus, who, says Cicero, (Tusc. i. 10, 18,) being 
both a philosopher and musician, imagined that the mind was 
merely a harmony resulting from the nature and shape of the body, 
as tunes spring from the consenting motions of musical instruments. 
The same opinion is n< ticed and confuted by Aristotle de Anima, i. 
4. Allusion is also made to it in Plato's Piia^do. 

- Feel pleasure.] Ver. 108.^ Lietamur. A little below fver. 110) 
I have rendered Quom mixer ex animo hetathtr corpore toto, '"is well in 
his wliole body ; " for we can hardly say that he who is icretched in 
mind rejoices or feels jjleasure in his whole body. 

* 0;it' among our members.] \'er. 118. In tnembris. That is, says 
Lanibinus, in numero membrorum, in the number of our members. 

* To hold — the body as a liarmony.] V'er. Ill), Neque harmoniam 
corpus retinere solere. The reader of the Latin may be in doubt 
whether the construction is harmoniam retinere corjnis, or corpus re- 
tinere harmoniam. Wakefield and the Delphin editor put it in the 

B. :ii. 120-137. LUCRETIUS. 105 

place, you may observe, that, even when much of the body is 
taken away, the life nevertheless often remains in the mem- 
bers that are left ; ' and, again, the same life, when a few atoms 
of the heat of the body have dispersed, and air has been sent 
forth through the mouth, immediately quits the veins, and 
rehnquishes possession of the bones : so that you may conclude 
from hence, that all particles of the body have not equal parts 
and powers, but that those which are the constituent-atoms 
of air and quickening heat,^ exercise more influence than 
others that life may dwell and be retained in the members. 
The vital heat, tlierefore, and air, which desert our limbs 
when dying, are existent in the body itself, and form a part 
of it; 

For which reason, since the nature of the mind and the 
soul is thus found to exist as a part of man, give back to these 
philosophers their name of harmony, whether brought down 
by musicians from lofty Helicon, or whether they themselves 
took it from any other quai'ter,^ and transferred it to that 
object, which then wanted a distinctive appellation. What- 
soever is the case, let tliem have it to themselves ; listen thou 
to the rest of my arguments. 

I now atfirm that the mind and soul'' are held united with 

way in which I have given it; the other conmientators say notliing 
on the point. 

• The life— often remains in the members that are left.'\ Ver. 121. 
By life (vita) he intends the soul (anima), which, he says, cannot be 
a harmony resulting from the whole body, because it remains en- 
tire, and undiminished in vigour, when the body is no longer whole. 
It will be seen below, (ver. 232, seq.,) tliat he makes the anima, 
(or rather the anima and animus conjoined,) which he does not 
make distinct from the vital power, to consist oi htat, a certain aura, 
air, and a fourth substance, to whicli lie gives no name, but which is 
the origin of sense and motion in the human ft-ame. _ 

^ Quickening heat.] V^er. 127. Calidique vaporis. Warm or warm- 
ing heat. Compare ver. 216. 

' From any other quarter.] Ver. 134. Aliunde porro. From any 
other place else. Porro is cqiiivalent to else or besides. 

* I now affirm that the mind and soul, .Sfc] Ver. 137- He now 
asserts that the mind and soul ioww one substance, but that the mind 
(animus, which is also called consilium and mens, reason and intel- 
lect) remains seated in the breast, and influences the soul, which is 
diffused throughout the body, and wliich is often itself aflected with 
pleasure or pain, when the soul connected with it is wholly u«- 

106 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 138-168. 

one another, and form of themselves one nature or substance ; 
but that that which is as it were tlie head, and which rules in 
the whole body, is the reason, the thinkitifji or intellectual part 
which we call mind and understanding; and this remains seated 
in the middle portion of the breast. For here dread and terror 
throb ; around these parts joys soothe ; here therefore is the 
understanding and mind. The other part of the soul, or vital 
power, distributed through the whole body, obeys, and is moved 
according to the will and impulse of the mind. And this rational 
or intellectual part thinks of itself alone, and rejoices for itself, 
at times when nothing of the kind moves either the rest of the 
soul or the body. And as when the head or the eye, when 
pain affects it, is troubled in us, and as part of us, hut we are 
not afflicted throughout the whole body, so the mind is some- 
times grieved itself alone, and is sometimes excited with joy, 
when the other part of the soul, diffused through the limbs and 
joints, is stimulated by no new sensation. But when the mind 
is more than ordinarily shaken by violent terror, we see the 
whole soul, throughout the several members, sympathize witli 
it, and perspirations and paleness, in consequence, arise over 
the whole body, and the tongue rendered powerless and the 
voice die away ; while we find the eyes darkened, the ears 
ringing, and the limbs sinking underneath. 

Furthermore, we often see men faint altogether from terror 
of mind ; so that any one may easily understand from this, 
that with the mind is united the soul, which, when it has been 
acted upon by the power of the mind, then influences and 
affects the body. 

This same course of reasoning teaches us that the nature 
or substance of tlie mind and soul is corporeal ; ' for when 
this nature or substance is seen to impel the limbs, to rouse 
the body from sleep, and to change the countenance, and to 
guide and turn about the whole man ; — of which effects we 
see that none can be produced without touch, and tliat touch, 
moreover, cannot take place without body ; — must we not ad- 
mit that the mind and soul are of a corporeal nature ? 

' The same — reasoning — mind and soul corporeal.] Ver. 162. 
As the mind and soul act upon the body, they must be corporeal, 
for nothing but body can act upon body ; as he asserts i. 305: Tmv- 
gere enim, et tangi, 7iisi corpus, 7iulla potest res 

B. III. 16^-183. LUCRETIUS 107 

Besides, you see that the mind suffers with the body,' and 
sympathizes for us with the body. Thus, if the violent force 
of a dart, driven into the body, the bones and nerves being di- 
vided, does not hurt the life itself, yet there follows a languor, 
and a kind of agreeable inclination-to-sink to the ground,^ and 
when we are on the ground, a perturbation ^ and giddiness 
which is produced in the mind, and sometimes, as it were, an 
irresolute desire to rise. It therefore necessarily follows that 
the nature of the mind is corporeal, since it is made to suifer 
by corporeal weapons and violence. 

I shall now proceed to give you a demonstration, in plain 
words, of what substance this mind is, and of what it consists. 

In the first place, I say that it is extremely subtle,'* and is 
formed of very minute atoms. And you may, if you please, 
give me your attention, in order that you may understand 
clearly that this is so, from the following arguments.^ No- 
thing is seen to be done in so swift a way,*" as if the mind pro- 

' Suffers with the body.] Ver. 169. Fungi cum corpore. Facere et 
fungi sine corpore nulla potest res, i. 444. 

* Agreeable inclination-to-sink-to the ground.] Ver. 173. Terraque 
petitus sxiavis. Properly a seeking of the ground. He uses a soft kind 
of expression, says Wakefield, because he does not speak of such 
injury as takes away all power, but only of such as stupifies the 
senses; an effect similar to that which is produced by wine. 

' Perturbation.] Ver. 174. JEstus. " Conturbatio." Lambintis. 
"Fluctuatio." Wakefield. 

* In the first place extremely subtle.] Ver. 180. He now 

proceeds to show that the soul and mind consist of subtle and fine 
particles, agreeably to the opinion of Epicurus, who calls the soul 
XiTTTOfjii^tQ owfia, and says that it consists of atoms not very dissimi- 
lar to those of fire. 

^ From the following arguments.] Ver. 182. Hinc. 

* Nothing is seen to be done in so swift a way, §c.] Ver. 183. 

Nil adeo fieri celeri ratione videtur, 

Quam si mens fieri proponit, et incboat ipsa. 

This seems to be but a cumbrous and circuitous way of expressing 

that nothing is so active as thought. Good has it, 

nought so swiftly speeds 
As what the mind determines and completes. 

Creech contents himself with 

no action is so swiftly done 
As what the mind begins. 

Busby is very spirited, to show how Lucretius ought to have ex- 
pressed himself: 

108  LUCRETIUS. B. III. 181-214. 

poses it to be done, and itself undertakes it The mind, 
tlierefore, impels itself more speedily than any thing, among 
all those of which the nature is manifestly seen before our 
eyes. But that which is so exceedingly active, must consist 
of atoms exquisitely round and exquisitely minute ; that they 
may be moved, when acted on, by a slight impulse. For 
water is moved, and flows, with so trifling a force as we see 
act upon it, inasmuch as it is composed of voluble and small 
particles. But the substance of honey, on the other hand, is 
more dense, and its fluid sluggish, and its movement more 
tardy ; ' for its whole mass of material-particles clings more 
closely together ; because, as is evident, it consists of atoms 
neither so smooth, nor so small and round. For a gentle and 
light breeze can make a tall heap of poppy-seed waste away, 
from tlie top to the bottom, before your eyes; but, on the con- 
trary, can have no such ejfect \x\iO\i a heap of stones and darts; 
particles, therefore, according as they are most diminutive^ 
and most smooth, have also the greatest facility of motion. 
But, on the other hand, whatever particles are found of a 
greater weight, and rougher surface, are so much the more 
flxed and difficult to move. 

Since, therefore, the nature of the mind has been found pre- 
eminently active, it must of necessity consist of particles ex- 
ceedingly diminutive, and smooth, and round. Which point, 
being thus known to you, my excellent friend, will be found 
useful, and be of advantage, in many of 7/our future in- 

This fact also indicates the nature of the soul, and shows 
of how subtle a texture it consists, and in how small a space 
it would contain itself, if it could be condensed ; because, 
when the tranquil repose of death has taken possession of a 
man, and the substance of the mind and the soul has departed, 
you can there perceive nothing detracted as to appearance, 

Attend : this potent truth thon'lt well perceive ; 
For what its point so swiftly can achieve 
As mind.' In boundless nature what can vie 
With its unlimited velocity? 

' Movement more tardy.] \ er. 193. Cunctantior acthis. "Actus: 
i. e. motus. Festus. " ^c<(m signiticat — tnofum corporis." Wakefield. 

* According as tliey are most diminutive, &:c.'] Ver. 200. Par- 
vissima pro qiuim et levissima sunt. Comp. ii. 113(j. The Lexicout 
supply no other instances oi pro quam but these two. 

B. III. 215-233. LUCRETIUS. ' 109 

nothing as to weight, from the whole body. Death leaves all 
things entire,^ except vital sense and quickening heat.- 

It must therefore necessarily be the case, that the whole 
soul consists of extremely small seminal-atoms, connected and 
diffused throughout the veins, the viscera, and the nerves ; 
inasmucli as, when the whole of it has departed from the 
whole of the body, the extreme outline of the members still 
shows itself unaltered, nor is an atom of weight withdrawn •,^ 
just as is the case when the aroma of wine has flown off, or 
when the sweet odour of ointment has passed away into the 
air, or when the flavour has departed from any savoury sub- 
stance ;* for still the substance itself does not, on that account, 
appear diminished to the eye, nor does any thing seem to have 
been deducted from the weight ; evidently because many and 
minute atoms compose the flavour and odour throughout the 
whole constitution of bodies. 

Wherefore again and again / say, you may feel assured 
that the nature or substance of the mind and soul is produced 
from exquisitely small seminal-atoms, since, when it escapes 
from the body, it carries away no weight ^vith it. 

Nor yet is this nature or substance to be regarded by us as 
simple and uncompounded. For a certain subtle aura^ mixed 

" Death leaves all things entire.] Ver. 21-5. Mors omnia pmstat. 
" Mors omnia relinquit Integra." Lambinus. " Facit ne quid detri- 
menti in mole corporis appareat." Faber. 

 Quickening heat.] Ver. 217. Calidumque vaporem. Compare 
ver. 127. 

' Nor is an atom of weight withdrawn.] Ver. 221. Nee defit pon- 
deris hiltim. " Hihnn they consider to be that which adheres to a 
bean," (as we say, the black of a bean,) " from which comes nihil and 
nihilum." Festiis. " The ancients used hilum for ullu7n, any (small) 
tiling." Priscian, b. vi. p- 687. 

■* Flavour has departed from any savoury substance.] Ver. 224. 
Siwus do corpore cessit. Sucus, or siiccus, is evidently here notliing 
more than flavour; as, probably, in Hor. Sat. ii. 4,_ 70, Picenis 
cedunt pomis Tiburtia succo. The reader, I fear, will hardly be- 
lieve me, when I tell him that Good translates it, 

From man 
Th' excreted lymph exhales. 
* Subtle owra.] Ver. 233. Tenuis aura. I have thought it better 
to preserve the word aura in the English, than to render it by va- 
pour, or, as Good has it, " gas." A few verses below, Lucretius 
calls it venti ceeca potesta-s. 

110 • LUCRETIUS. B. III. 234-266. 

with heat, leaves dying persons; the heat, moreover, carries 
air with it ; nor is there any heat with which air is not also 
mixed ; since, as its substance is rare, many atoms of air must 
necessarily be borne with it. 

The substance of the mind is now therefore found to be 
triple. Nor yet are all these constituent parts, aura, heat, 
and air, sufficient to produce mental sense or power ; since 
the mind admits none of these to be able to generate sensible 
motions, such as revolve any thoughts in the mind. A certain 
fourth nature, or substance,^ must therefore necessarily be 
added to these ; this is wholly without a name ; it is a sub- 
stance, however, than which nothing exists more active or 
more subtle, nor is any thing more essentially composed of small 
and smooth elementary particles ; and it is this substance 
which first distributes sensible motions through the members. 
For, being formed of small atoms, it is itself first excited ; 
then the heat, and the secret power of the aura, receive motion 
from it; next the air, and afterwards all parts, are quick- 
ened ; the blood is agitated, and all the viscei-a partake-in-the- 
sensation ; and (whether it be pleasure, or whether it be the 
contrary feeling) it is communicated to the bones and marrow 
last of all. Nor can pain easily penetrate, or any violent e\ il 
spread, so far as this, without all parts being perturbed : so 
that, in such a case, room is wanting for life, and the particles 
of the soul fly off through all the passages of the body. But 
on the surface of the body, as it were, a limit is generally put 
to sensible motions ; and from this cause we have the power 
to retain life within us. 

And now, though I would fain give a full exposition, in 
what manner these principles are mixed one with another, 
and how, being arranged, they possess vigour, the poverty of 
my native tongue restrains me against my will ; but notwith- 
standing, as far as I shall be able to treat of these subjects 
summarily, I will touch upon them. 

For the primordial-atoms, by the motion of the elements 
among themselves, so actively-intermingle in the substance of 
the soul, that no one can be separated from the rest, nor can 
their power become divided by ani/ interval, but, being many, 

' A certain fourth nature, o»* substa)ice.'] Ver. 242. Quarfa qiuedatn 
iiatura. The reader now undorstands Lucretius's composition of the 
soul. See note on ver. 121. 

B. HI. 267-297. LUCRETIUS. 1 1 ] 

they are, as it were, the power of a single body. As, in the 
herd of animals, whichsoever you would inspect, ^ there is a 
certain odour, and heat, and taste ; and still from all these is 
composed one mass and combination of body. So heat, and 
air, and the secret power of aura, and that other active force, 
(which communicates the beginning of motion from itself to 
the other three, whence a sensible movement first arises 
through the viscera,^) being mixed, produce one nature or sub- 
stance. For this fourth principle lies entirely hid, and re- 
mains in secret, within ; nor is any thing more deeply seated 
within our body ; and it is itself, moreover, the soul of the 
whole soul. As the force of the mind, and the power of the 
soul, mixed up with our limbs and entire body, remains latent, 
because it is composed of small and few atoms, so this name- 
less force, compounded of small particles, lies concealed, and 
is besides, as it were, the very soul of the whole soul, and 
rules throughout the whole body. In like manner, it must be 
the case that the aura, and air, and heat, mixed throughout 
the limbs, possess-their- vigour one with another ; and that 
one may possibly subside at times, or become prominent, more 
than the rest ; but so that they may still seem to be one prin- 
ciple compounded of thein all ; and that the heat and aura by 
themselves, or the power of air by itself, may not, being se- 
parated from the whole, destroy and dissipate the sense. 

There is also that heat in the mind, which it assumes in 
anger, when it burns, and ardour gleams vividly from the 
eyes. There is also much cold aura, the attendant of fear, 
with which it produces shivering throughout the various mem- 
bers, and agitates the limbs. There is also that state of the air 
when at rest, which happens in concurrence with a tranquil 
breast and serene countenance. But in those animals, whose 
fierce hearts, and angry feelings, easily burn in wrath, there is 
more heat ; in which class especially is the violent fury of 

* As, in the herd of animals, whichsoever you would inspect.] 
Ver. 267. Quod yenus, in quo vis animantum visere vulgo. Quod genus 
is the same as quemadmodum ; on whicli point the reader may con- 
sult Wakefield on this verse, and on iv. 739. Tlie same words occur 
a little below, ver. 277 and 328. " In quo vis animantum visere 
vulgo," says Wakefield, " is in vulgo animantum, quo vis visere, 
i. e. quemcunque animantem velis intueri. " The editions before 
Wakefield read in quovis — viscere, which Lachmann has recalled. 

* Viscera.] Ver. 273. Viscera meunt all parts under the akin, except 
bone. See on i. 836. 

nS LUCRETIUS. B. HI. 298— 323. 

lions, which, raging, often burst, as it were, their hearts with 
roaring, nor can contain within their breasts their torrents of 
ire. But the cold temperament of deer has more of the aura 
in it, and sooner excites a cliill influence through the viscera, 
which cause a tremulous motion to arise in the limbs. But 
the nature of the ox subsists more on calm air, nor does the 
smoky torch of wrath, applied to him,' ever irritate him to 
fury like that of the lion, suffusing him with a shade of thick 
darkness ;^ nor is he torpid, transfixed with the cold darts of 
aura; but is situate between the two natures, those of deer 
and fiercer lions. 

Tlius is the race of men. Each has a certain temperament; 
and though instruction may in a manner render some in- 
dividuals polished, it still leaves the first traces of the nature 
of every mind ; nor is it to be thought that vices can be so 
plucked out by the root, but that one man will run more 
readily thaji another into violent anger ; a second will be af- 
fected somewhat sooner than another by fear ; while a third 
will regard certain things more indulgently than is right. And 
in many other I'espects the various natures, and yielding man- 
ners of men, must necessarily differ ; of which differences I 
cannot now explain the secret causes, nor find so many names 
for figures as there are diversities of shape in the atoms from 
which this variety in things arises. 

But, with reference to these subjects, I think myself compe- 
tent to affirm this ; that so small are the traces left of the natural 
principles, which reason cannot remove^ by her dictates, that 
nothing hinders men from leading a life worthy of the gods. 

' Nor does the smoky torch of wrath, applied to him, ^c] Ver. 
304. Nee ttiinits ira'i fax nunqKom suhdita percit Fionida. There 
seems scarcely any possibility of extracting satisfactory sense from 
this line, unless by considering tninus nunqiiam equal to vnquam ; 
and this construction I have adopted. Lambinus read, ncc nimis ira'i 
fax tmqxiam ; and had Lachmanii. who follows Lambinus, and who 
in other j)laces animadverts severely on Wakefield and Forbiger, 
said that nobody but they could think this verse in a right state, 
most readers would surely have agreed with him. The meaning is 
evident; that the ox 7na>j be excited, but not to the same degree as 
the lion. 
* Sufiusing — darkness.] V^er. 305. Stiff undens ccbcob caliginis umbram, 
' So small are the traces left of the natural principles, which rea- 
son cannot remove.] \ er. 321. 

Usque adcb naturarum vestigia linqui 
Parvola, quae nequeat ratio depellere dictis. 

B. lu. 324— 351. LUCRETIUS. US 

This mental nature, therefore, ^ or compound intellectual 
substance, is contained in every body, and is itself tfie 
guardian of the body, and the cause of its safety ; for the two 
the body and soul, cohere, as it toere, by common roots, witii 
one another, nor seem capable of being torn asunder without 
destruction to both. For as it is impossible to separate the 
perfume from balls of frankincense, without the nature of it. 
at the same time, being destroyed, so it is impossible to ex- 
tract the nature or substance of the mind and soul from the 
whole body, without all parts being dissolved ; with such 
closely interwoven elements, from their first origin, are they 
endowed with common life ; nor does the power of the body 
or mind seem capable of having-perception apart, each for it- 
self, without the vigour of the other ; but the sentient-power 
lighted up through our viscera is conjointly- produced by their 
common motions one with the other.^ 

Besides, the body is never produced,^ nor ever grows, by 
itself ; nor is it observed to retain-its-existence after death, or 
the departure of the soul from it. For it is not as when the 
liquid-substance of water frequently thi-ows off heat, which 
has been communicated to it, nor is on that account dispersed 
itself; — not so, I say, can the limbs, when deserted by the soul, 
bear the separation of the soul from them, but, fhtis divided 
from it, altogether perish and rot. For the mutual inter-con- 
nexions of the soul and the corporeal frame, from the very be- 
ginning of life, even in the body and secret womb of the mother, 
so acquire the vital movements together, that a separation 
cannot take place without destruction and damage to each : so 
that you may see that, since their means of preservation are 
united, the nature and substance of them must also be united. 

For what remains to be considered, if any one denies that 

The Delphin editor explains naturarum to signify heat, air, and aura^ 
oi which (with the fourth, or reason) the soul and mind consist. 
Some, as Lambinus observes, would read natural. 

' This wjewto^ nature, therefore, c^c] Ver. 324. " This nature, com- 
posed of the four above-mentioned substances." Lambinus. 

^ Common motions one with the other.] Ver. 336. Commimibus 
inter eos — utrinque 7notibm. Utrinque : proceeding from both. The 
fmrth substance of the mind, however, is the prime mover, ver. 246. 

' Besides, the body is never produced, iSrc] Ver. 338. Prceterea 
corjms per se nee gignitur unquam. " The body, whether of man, or 
of any other animal." Lambifius. 

114 LUCRETIUS. B. m. 352-371. 

the body has sense, and believes that the soul, mixed with the 
sntire body, takes lohoUy upon itself that motion which we 
call sense ; he contends against manifest and certain facts. 
For who will ever explain what it is for the body to have 
sense, if it he not that which experience itself has manifestly 
shown and taught us ? But the soul being set free from the 
bodi/, the body is void of sense in all parts : for it loses that 
which was not peculiar to itself in any period of its life ; and 
it besides loses many things as the soul is-being-expelled 

To affirm, moreover, that the eyes^ themselves can see no 
object, but that the mind merely\ook% through them as through 
open doors, is difficult; when the sense of these «//(?« leads to a 
contrary opinion ; for the sense of the eyes draws the mind^ 
and attracts it from ivithin, to the sights or pupils themselves. 
While, let it especially he considered, we are often unable to 
look at bright objects, because our eyes are prevented by their 
effulgence ; which is not the case with regard to mere doors ; 
for mere open doors, where we look through, do not feel any 
inconvenience. Besides, if our eyes are only instead of doors 
the mind, when the eyes are taken out, and the door-posts 
themselves, so to speak, removed, seems bound to see even 
more clearly than before. 

On these points, you can by no means assume as true* that 

' And it besides loses many things as the soul is-being-expelled 
by age.] Ver. 359. Multaque praterea 2}erdit, qinim expellitur avo. I 
have interpreted this line according to Wakefield, who, however, 
reads dum. The soul loses some portion of lier faculties, as the body 
decays, and is about to part from her. Forbiger, thinking that the 
verse may be spurious, includes it in brackets. Lachmann gives 
nnUaqiw, from conjecture. 

- To affirm, moreover, that the eyes, A-c.] Ver. 3G0. Dicere porro 
ocidos, &c. There were some who thought that the whole body did 
not possess or exercise sense, but the mind only, which, residing in 
the body, saw and heard, i\c., through the organs of it; among 
whom was Epicharmus, who used to say the mi7id sees, the mind hears. 

' For the sense of the eyes draws the mind, <S,c.] \'er. 363. Sensua 
enim trahit, atqiie acies detrudit ad ipsns. "The sense of the eyes, 
struck with external objects, calls forth the mind to the pupils of the 
eyes, so that, the powers of the mind and the eye being united, the 
faculty of vision may arise from their combination." Wakefield. 

* On these points, y.ou can by no means assume as true, iVc] Ver. 
ill. Democritus taught that the atoms of the soul, and those of 

B. III. 372— 397. LUCRETIUS. ]].5 

which the divine opinion of the philosopher Democritus lays 
down ; namely, that the several atoms of the body and mind 
applied and corresponding each to each, vary and connect the 
members.' For not only are the atoms of the soul much 
more diminutive than those of which our body and viscera 
consist, but are also inferior in number, and are distributed 
thinly, with spaces hetiveen them, throughout the limbs ; so 
that you may safely warrant that the primary particles of the 
soul occupy, and are distributed at those intervals only, at 
which corporeal atoms cast upon us, and striking against us, 
may, if of sufficient gravity, be able to excite sensible motions 
through the body, the concussions being communicated from 
the surface to the internal parts. For neither at times do we 
perceive the adhesion of dust on the body, nor feel powdered 
chalk, shaken over the limbs, settle on them ; nor do we feel 
a mist at night, nor the subtle threads of the spider's web 
meeting us, when we are entangled in them as we go along; 
nor do toe notice the old vesture of the same spider fall upon 
our head, nor feathers of birds, or the flying down of thistles, 
which, from extreme lightness, generally fall with difiiculty, 
and strike but gently the object on which they fall; nor do we 
observe the progress of every creeping animal, nor every first 
step of the feet, which gnats and other such insects place upon 
our body ; so many particles in us must be moved, before the 
primordial-atoms of the soul, mixed throughout the limbs in 
our bodies, can feel-the-sensation, and, impelling one another, 
(at how great intervals !) can, in succession, strike together, 
meet, and rebound. 

And the mind is more effficient in holding the bars of life,^ 

the body, were equal in number, and were united, atom to atom, 
throughout the ^yhole human frame. But this cannot be true, says 
Lucretius; for, if it were, whatever might touch any atom on the 
surface of the body, however lightly, would agitate the correspond- 
ing atom of the mind ; whereas many substances touch the body 
without the mind being sensible of the contact. 

' Connect the members.] Ver. 374. Nectere membra. " So imite 
them, that they may have motions in common, and conspire one 
with another." Wakefield. 

^ _^^}'Vo^'S3\ atoms, cast upon us, <Sfc.] Ver. 379. Prima corponx 
nobis injecta. " Atoms so casting themselves upon us, and striking 
against us, as to produce sensible motions in the body, by arousing 
the power of the mind to its duty." IVakeJield. 

* And the mind is more efficient in holding the bars of life, 5|C,] 

I 2 

116' LUCRETIUS. B. HI. 398— 421. 

and more prevalent to preserve vitality, than the power of the 
soul. For without the understanding and mind no part of 
the soul can have-its-residence in the body even for a small 
portion of time ; but when the mind takes its departure, the 
soul readily follows as its companion, and leaves the chilled 
limbs in the cold of death. But he to whom understanding 
and mind have remained, continues in life, although he be 
mutilated, Avith his limbs even cut off on all sides. The trunk, 
though portions of the soul he taken aAvay around it, and it be 
separated from the limbs, still lives, and inhales the vital air ; — 
deprived, if not altogether, yet in a great measure, of the soul, 
it still delays and continues in life. So when the eye is la- 
cerated round about, if the pupil has remained uninjured, the 
vivid faculty of seeing survives ; but this is only provided you 
do not injure the entire ball of the eye, but merely cut round 
the pupil, and leave that alone whole; for such injury cannot 
be committed without destruction of the eyes; but, if the very 
smallest part of the middle of the ball is perforated, though 
the bright orb he otherwise unharmed, the sight is at once 
lost, and darkness follows. With such a connexion the soul 
and the mind are constantly united. 

And now attend. That thou mayest understand ' that living 
creatures have minds, and subtle souls, born and perishable, 
I. will proceed to arrange verses worthy of thy life and vir- 
tues,^ verses collected during a long time, and prepared with 

Ver. 397. Et magis est miinnis vital clanstra coercens. As he has 
placed tlie mind {animus) in the breast, and distributed the soul 
(anima) through the whole body, he now shows that though part of 
the soul may, by mutilation of the body, be taken away, life, as 
long as the w»j(^ remains uninjured, will still be preserved; just as 
the sight of the eye will continue perfect, as long as no damage is 
done to the pupil. 

- And now attend. That thou mayest understand, <S|C.] Ver. 418. 
He now proceeds, with all the force of reasoning that he can collect, 
to show that the united substance of the mind and soul is born, grows, 
decays, and dies, together with the body. In this process he uses, 
as he gives notice, the words mind and soul indiscriminately. Creech 
distinguishes the whole demonstration into eight and twenty argu- 
ments ; Eichstadt into six and twenty. We may rather consider 
the first twenty as the real and positive arguments, and regard the re- 
maining six as additional observations. I shall notice the different 
heads, as we proceed, at the commencement of each para§;raph. 

* Worthy of thy life and virtues.'] Ver. 421. Digna tiia carmina 
vita. " Worthy of thy life and conduct, whom the Muse has willed 

B. in. 422-436. LUCRETIUS. 117 

sweet labour. And thou, mi/ friend, take care to include 
both of them under one name, whichsoever of the two I may 
use ; and, for example, when I proceed to speak of the soui, 
teaching that it is mortal, suppose that I also speak of the 
mind ; inasmuch as they are one by mutual combination, and 
their substance is united. 

In the first place, since I have shown ' that the soul, being 
subtle, consists of minute particles, and is composed of much 
smaller atoms than the clear fluid of water, or mist, or smoke ; 
(for it far surpasses those bodies in susceptibility-of-motion, 
and is more readily impelled when acted upon from a slight 
cause; inasmuch as both the mind and soul are moved by the 
mere images of smoke and mist ; ^ as when, lulled in sleep, we 
see high altars exhale with vapour, and carry up smoke; 
since doubtless these phantasms are produced in us ; j ^ now, 
therefore, 1 say, since, when vessels are broken to pieces, 
you see water flow about, and any other liquid run away ; 

at all times to excel, being graced with every gift," Wakefield See i 
27, 28. 

» In the first. place, since I have shown, <Src.] Ver. 425. This is 
his ^rst argument. Since the soul is more subtle than vapour or 
smoke, it must surely be sooner dissipated than those light sub- 
stances, when it is once set free from the body that confines it. 

^ Inasmuch as both the mind and soul are moved by the mere 

wi ^»v>./.<, !,«,«, iuuvKni.ur, in me piurai, is tne reaaing oi Wakeiield, 
to include the mind and the soul; but, as Lachmann remarks, it is 
absurd, since Lucretius considers the two as owe; other copies have 
fnovetur. As to the imagines in the mind, says Turnebus, (Advers. 
XX. 26,) Lucretius means that " the atoms of the mind are finer 
than those of smoke and mist, since they are moved even by the 
images and simulucra of smoke and mist." " A pleasant argument," 
says Faber ; " the images of smoke and mist move the mind ; there- 
tore It must be very light." 

Since doubtless these phantasms are produced in us.] Ver. 434. 
Nam procul haic dubio nobis simulacra genuntur. " Procul dubio ista- 
nim rerum phantasmata per simulachra in nobis excitantur." 
Creech. Lucretius, with his master, Epicurus, thought that the 
images thrown off" from objects (as shown in book iv.) flying about 
in the air, and coming in contact with our bodies, produced such 
impressions upon the soul as to excite dreams. " For without 
images," says Lambinus, " Epicurus supposed that nothing could 
be seen, or thought, or dreamed." Incohibessit, at the end of the 
paragraph, (ver. 445,) I have rendered as the present. 

IIB LUCRETIUS. B. III. 437— 464, 

and since, also, mist and smoke disperse into the air; you 
jmcst conclude that the soul is likewise scattered abroad, and 
is dissipated much sooner than mist and smoke, and more 
easily resolved into its original elements, when it has once been 
withdrawn from the body of a man, and has taken its depar- 
ture. For how can you believe that this soul can be held 
together by any combination ofoxv, when the body itself (which 
is, as it were, its vessel) cannot contain it, if it be convulsed 
by any violence, or rendered thin and weak by blood being 
taken from the veins ? How can that air which is more rare 
than our body confine it ? 

Besides, we observe that the mind is produced' together 
with the body, and grows up along ivith it, and waxes old at 
the same time ivith it. For as children wander and totter 
about with a weak and tender body, so the subtle sense of the 
mind follows and corresponds to the iceakness of their frame. 
Then, 'when their age has grown up in robust vigour, their 
understanding is also greater, and their strength of mind 
more enlarged. Afterwards, when the body is shaken by the 
prevailing power of time, and, the strength being depressed, 
the limbs have sunk into infirmity, the understanding then 
halts, the tongue and the mind lose their sense, all parts fail 
and fade away at once. It is therefore natural that the whole 
substance of the soul should be dissolved, as smoke, into the 
sublime air of heaven ; since we see that it is produced toge- 
ther with the body, and grows up together with it, and both, 
as I have shown, overcome by age, decay in concert. 

To this is added,^ that as we observe the body itself to- 
be-subject-to violent diseases and severe pain, so we see the 
mind to be susceptible of sharp cares, and grief, and fear. 
For which cause it is reasonable that it should also be a par- 
taker of death. 

Moreover the mind, in diseases of the body, often wanders 

• Besides, we observe that the mind is produced, <Src.] Ver. 446. 
The second arr/ument. Since the mind appears tend( r when the body 
is tender ; mature, when the body is mature ; and declining, when 
tlie l)ody is declining ; it is but fair to conclude, that it perishes 
when the body perislies. 

^ To this is added, cVc] Vev. 460. The f^tird argument. Since, 
when the body is weakened by disease, the mind or soul is weaken- 
ed with it, must we not conclude that, when the body dies, the 
mind or soul dies \rith it? 

\ B. in. 460— 490. LUCRETIUS. 119 

distracted ; for it loses its faculties, and utters senseless 
words ; and sometimes, by a heavy lethargy, is borne down into 
a deep and eternal sleep, the eyes and the nodding-head sink- 
ino-;' hence it neither hears the voice, nor can distinguish 
the countenances, of those who stand around recalling it to 
life, bedewing their faces and cheeks with tears. Wherefore 
you must necessarily admit that the mind is also dissolved, 
since the contagion of disease penetrates into it. For pain 
and disease are each the fabricator of death ; a truth which 
we have been taught by the destruction of many millions in 
past times. 

Further, when the violent power of wine^ has penetrated the 
heart of men, and its heat, being distributed, has spread into 
the veins, a heaviness of the limbs foUow's, tlie legs of the 
tottering person are impeded, the tongue grows torpid, the 
mind is, as it icere, drowned ; the eyes swim ; noise, hiccups,'^ 
and quarrels arise, and other things of this kind, whatever are 
consequent on intoxication. Why do these effects happen, 
unless because the vehement force of the wine has exerted- 
its-customary-power to disturb the soul as it is diffused 
through the body itself? But whatsoever things can be thus 
disturbed and obstructed in their operations, show, that if a 
cause somewhat stronger shall spread within them, the conse- 
quence will be that they must perish, deprived of all future 

Moreover, frequently, overcome by the force of disease,"* a 
person suddenly falls down before our eyes, as if struck by 
the blow of a thunder-bolt, and foams at the mouth, groans, 
and trembles in his joints, loses his senses, stretches his nerves 
to rigidity, is distorted, pants with irregular breathing, and 

' The eyes and the nodding-head sinking.] Ver. 467. Oculis nu- 
tuque cadenti. " By nutm cadens nothing more seems to be signified 
than the dejection or sinking down of the head." Lambimts. 

2 Further, when the violent power of wine, <Sfc.] Ver. 475. The 
fourth argument. Since intoxicating power, such as that of wine, 
can disturb the soul, why may not a stronger force utterly de- 
stroy it? 

* Hiccups.] Ver. 479. Singultus, jurgia gliscvnt. " Hiccough, 
noise, and strife." Good. 

* Moreover, frequently, overcome by the force of disease, *c.] 
Ver. 486. The ffth argument. Since the soul, in a case of morbus 
eomitialis, or falling sickness, is torn and distracted, why may it 
not, at death, be altogether dissolved and dispersed ? 

120 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 491—515 

wearies his limbs with tossing about ; evidently because the 
violence oi" the malady, dispersed throughout the body, and 
acting upon tlie soul, perturbs it, as tlie waves, on the foaming 
salt ocean, boil with the strong fury of the winds. Groans are 
then forced out, because the limbs are seized witli pain, and 
especially because the particles of the voice are drawn forth, 
and carried, collected in a body, out of the mouth, the way by 
which they have, as it were, been accustomed to pass, and where 
the course of the road is paved /or them} Loss of understand- 
ing takes place, the united power of the mind and 
soul is disturbed, and, as I have shown, is divided and rent 
asunder, distracted by that same distemper. Afterwards, when 
the cause of the disease has given way, and the violent humour 
of the di.sordered body has retired into its hiding-place, then, 
as if staggering, the person first rises, and, by degrees, returns 
to all his senses, and re-possesses the right state o/'his soul. 

When these substa?ices, therefore, the mind and the soul, 
are shaken with such powerful diseases in the body itself, and 
suffer, distracted in such miserable ways, why do you conceive 
that the same mind and soul can support an existence with- 
out a body, in the open air, and amidst strong winds ? 

And since we see that the mind may be healed,^ like a sick 
body, and wrought upon by means of medicine, tiiis also sig- 
nifies that the mind exists only as a mortal substance. For 
whoever attempts, and commences, to change the mind, or to 
alter any other nature or substance ^ whatsoever, it is requi- 
site either that he add ?ieto parts, or transpose the parts in a 
7iew order, or take away at least some small portion from the 
whole. But any substance, which is immortal, neither allows 

' The courae of tlie road is paved for them.'\ Ver. 497. Sxint 
mnnita viai. Tlie pxpres.sion seemed so strange to Lambinus, that 
he wished to cancel the whole verse, but, as it seems, without rea- 
son. We say of a man who drinks very hot liquids, that his throat 
m list be paved. 

^ And since we see that the mind niav be healed, Ac] Ver. .509. 
The sij-th argument. Since the mind, when affected by sickness, is 
restored, like the body in the same case, by medicine, must \re not 
suppose that the mind is mortal like the body ! 

^ To alter any other nature or substance.^ Ver. .515. Aliam qiiam- 
vis naturam fiectere. The Delphin editor rightly interprets naturam, 
" rem," or substance ; a signification which it often lias, as well in 
Lucretius as in Cicero and otlicr pliilosophical writers. Fiectere, to 
alter by restoring and improving. 

B. in. 516— 534. LUCRETIUS. 121 

its parts to be transposed, nor to-be-increased-by-addition, nor 
permits an atom to pass away from them. For whatever, 
being changed, goes beyond ' its own limits, this change is 
forthwith the death or termination of tliat which it was before. 

The mind, therefore, whether it be diseased, or whether it 
be wrought upon by medicine, exhibits, as I have demonstrated, 
mortal symptoms : so far is the force of true reason seen to 
oppose false ^ reasoning, and to cut off escape from him who 
shrinks /ro»j its conclusions, and to overthrow what is wrong 
by a double refutation. 

Furthermore, we often see a man decay by degrees,' and 
lose his vital power in one limb after another. On the feet 
we observe the toes and nails first grow livid ; then the feet 
themselves and the legs mortify ; afterwards, throughout the 
other limbs, we perceive the traces of cold death thence pro- 
ceed step by step.'* And since the substance of the soul is 
thus divided, and does not continue, always and at the same 
time, entire and unimpaired, it must be deemed mortal. But 
if perchance you think that the sovl can itself contract itself 
internally throughout the limbs, and condense its parts into 
one place, and thus withdraw feeling from all the members 

' For whatever, being changed, goes beyond, <5fc.] See i. 378, 875 : 
ii. 761. 

2 So far is the force of true reason seen to oppose false, iSfc.] Ver. 522. 
Usque adeo falsae rationis vera videtur 
Res occurrere, et effugium prjecludere eunti, 
Ancipitique refutatu convincere falsum. 
The construction, according to Wakefield, is Vera res rationis videtur 
occurrere falsa (rei rationis J. Lanibinus's reading, rationi, is much 
more simple: i. e. res vera, fact, experience, is seen to oppose /o/a^ 
rationi, false reasoning. Emiti, i. e. ejfuf/ienti, him that attempts to 
escape. Ancipiti refutatu, viz. both by falling sick and growing well. 
• ' Furthermore, we often see a man decay by degrees, (Src] Ver. 
525. The seventh argitment. Since the body often dies by degrees, 
limb by limb, must we not suppose that the soul, which is resident 
in it, dies gradually with it? How can we suppose that a soul, ap- 
parently decaying with a body partially sunk 'in death, car. be des- 
tined to live for ever in full vigour? 

•* Afterwards thence proceed step by step.] Ver. 528. Post 

hide per artus Ire alios tractim—. Post, says Wakefield, refers to the 
lapse of time, inde to the spread of the disease. Tractim is sese tra- 
hendo, dragging itself along slowly.— And does not continue, ifc^l 
Nee uno Tempore sincera existit. " Nee eodem tempore tola sincera, 
Integra, et incorrupta invenitur." Creech. 

122 LUCRETIUS. 8.111.535—558. 

successively, yet, in such a case, that place in which so great 
a mass of soul is collected, ought to seem in possession of 
greater feeling. But since this place of such increased feel- 
ing is no where apparent, the soul, as we said before, is 
evidently, being separated-into-parts, scattered abroad, and 
therefore perishes. 

Moreover, if we even consent to grant that which is false, 
and to allow that the soul may be thus concenti'ated in the 
bodies of those who leave light and life by dying part after 
part, you must still confess that the soul is mortal ; for neither 
is it of any importance whether it perishes, being scattered 
throughout the air, or loses its sense when drawn together 
from being dispersed in its several parts,' when animation 
steals away from the whole man more and more on all sides, 
and less and less of life is every where left. 

And as the mind is one single part ^ of a man, and remains 
fixed in a certain place, as the ears and eyes are, and the other 
organs of sense, wiiatsoever govern life ; and as the hand, and 
the eye or nose, when detach-ed from us, cannot, separately of 
themselves, have sensation or eve?i existence, for, when cut off, 
they are in a short time wasted with putrefaction ; so the 
mind cannot, of it-self, exist without the body and the man 
himself, which body seems to be, as it were, its vessel, or 
whatsoever else you would imagine to be more closely united 
with it, since it adheres to the body by connexion. 

Further, the animated powers of the body and mind^ are 
vigorous, and enjoy life, only when joined with one another ; 

' Drawn together from beh^ff dispersed in its several parts.] Ver. 
S+'i. Contracfa suis e partihits. Loses its sense, obbnitescat. Festus 
cites from Afraniiis, non possxan verhitm facers ; obrutui ; for obbrutui, 
I have grown dull and stupid. 

^ And as the mind is one single part, §*c.] Ver. 547. The eighth 
argument. Since the mind is part of a man, like any other member 
or organ, as already shown (ver. 94) ; and since any other member 
or organ cannot exercise its functions, or even preserve its existence, 
if separated from the bodj', how can we suppose that the mind dif- 
fers from them in this respect? 

^ Further, the animated powers of the body and mind, A-c] Ver. 
557. The ninth argiiinent. The mind and body united together, 
enjoy life, but when they are disjoined, the body dies, and are \7e 
not to su])pose that the soul dies also? Can we imagine that it pre- 
serves its existence in the air? At the commencement of the para- 
graph I have aXiereA potestas into "powers." 

B. III. 559-579. LUCRETIUS. 123 

for neither can the nature or substance of the mind, without 
the body, alone, and of itself, produce vital motions ; nor 
an^ain, can the body, deprived of the soul, continue its state of 
existence, and use its faculties. Just, for exam pie, • as the 
eye itself, torn from its roots, can discern no object apart 
from the whole body, so the mind or soul seems to have no 
power in itself; evidently because when mihgled throughout 
the veins and viscera, throughout the nerves and bones, they 
are held-in-close-confinement by the whole body, and their 
primary-particles, not being free, cannot fly asunder to great 
distances ; consequently, being thus confined, they move with 
sensitive motions, with which, after death, when cast forth 
beyond the body into the air of heaven, they cannot move ; 
for this very reason, that they are not held-confined in a si- 
milar manner. For surely the air forms body and soul,^ if 
the soul shall be able to keep itself together in the air, and 
to contain itself for exerting those motions, which it before 
exercised amidst the nerves, and in the body itself. On 
which account, 1 say again and again, you must necessarily 
admit that when the whole enclosure of the body is dissolved, 
and the vital breath cast forth, the sentient-existence of the 
mind and the soul is dissolved ; since there is common cause 
and like fate to both. 

Besides, when the body cannot bear the dissociation ^ of the 

' Just, for example, <Sfc.] Ver. 562. Scilicet.— Ver. 564. " Mind 
or soul seems:" anima atque cuiimus — videtiir, — Ver. 565. "when 
mingled :" mixtim. 

2 For surely the air forms body and soul, ^c.'] Ver. 572. 
Corpics atque animam serit aer, si cohibere sese anima, atque in eos 
poterit concludere motus, &c. The serit is Wakefield's; Lambinus 
and his followers have corpus enim atque animans erit aer ; on which 
Lambinus very judiciously comments thus; "If the atoms of the 
soul, when in the open air, can keep themselves together, and pro- 
duce the same motions as when they were in the body, the air will 
then be both a body and a living creature ; but this is absurd, there- 
fore, iSfc." But this did not satisfy Wakefield, who, finding in cer- 
tain manuscripts serit, transferred it to his text, with an exposition 
which I shall leave in his own Latin. " Aer est, qui serit (vel gig- 
nit * » • ) corpus et animam, (i. e. animantem ex utroque compo- 
situm) si in aere se continere possit (anima) atque ab acre cohiberi : 
nihil simpliciuset luculentius." Forbiger of course dutifully followed. 
But Lachmann has very wisely reinstated the reading of Lambinus. 

* Besides, when the body cannot bear the dissociation, ^c.\ Ver. 
579. The tenth argument. Since, on the separation of the soul and 

124 LUCRETIUS. b. hi. 580—603 

soul, without putrifying with offensive odour, why do you 
doubt but tliat the essence of the soul, rising from the depths 
and innermost part of the body, has passed forth, and has been 
diffused abroad like smoke ? and that for this reason the body, 
decaying with so great a dissolution, has utterly fallen away, 
because the foundations ' have been removed from their place, 
and the spirits pass out through the limbs, and through all 
the windings of the passages and ducts that are in the body ? 
So that you may understand from many considerations, that 
the nature or substance of the soul, being disparted, has gone 
out through the members of the body, and that it was disse- 
vered within the body itself, before, gliding outwards, it flowed 
forth into the air of heaven. 

Moreover, whilst the soul dwells within the bounds ^ of life, 
it yet frequently, when it has received a shock from some 
cause, seems to pass away, and presents the appearance that 
the mind is let loose from the whole body ; and the counte- 
nance then seems to become inanimate as at the last hour, and 
all the relaxed members to fail the languid frame. Such is 
the case, when it is said that the mind has been damaged,^ or 
the vital power has suffered-syncope ; while all is trepidation, 
and all are anxious to recover the last link of life. For then 
all the mind, and power of the soul, are shaken ; and these, 
it is evident, sink with the body itself ; so that a cause of some- 
what greater force may bring them to dissolution. 

Wliy then do you doubt, but that, at the hour of death, the 
soul driven forth at length, weak and helpless, out of the body, 

body, the body falls to pieces, why should we conceive that the 
soul remains entire? 

' Foundations, ^-c] Ver. 584. Mota loco sunt Fundamenta. 

2 Moreover, whilst the soul dwells within the bounds, ^cj] Ver. 
591. The eleventh argument. In a fainting fit we see the soul de- 
prived of its powers even while it yet remains in the body ; and 
how is it then to sustain itself when it is deprived of the covering 
and protection of the body? 

3 That the mind has been damaged, .Src] Ver. 596. 

Quod genus est, animo malfe factum quum perhibetur, 
Ant aniuiani liquisse; ubi jam trepidatur, et omnes 
Extremum cupiunt vitse reprehendere vinclum. 
The expression animo male factum, " the mind has been damaged," 
says Wakefield, was tlie vulgar phraseology ; the phrase animatit 
liquisie, \tnro\i/vxt]rTai, " sulfered-syncope," the mode in which the 
better instructed spoke. 

B. III. G04— 625. LUCRETIUS. 125 

and being in the open air, with its covering removed, can not 
only not endure throughout all time, but cannot even main- 
tain-its-existence for the smallest space whatsoever ? 

Nor does any one, when dying, appear to feel ' his soul go 
forth entire from his whole body, or come up first to his 
throat, and to his jaws above it ; but he finds that part of it 
rvhich is placed in any certain portion of the body, fail and 
decay in that part ; as he is conscious of the other senses 
losing-their-power each in its own quarter ; but if our soul 
were immortal, it would not so much complain tliat it suffers 
dissolution when dying, but would rather rejoice to pass forth 
abroad, and to leave its covering, as a snake delights to cast its 
skin, or an old stag its too long antlers. 

Again, why are the understanding and faculty^ of the mind 
never produced in the head, or the feet, or the hands, but re- 
main-fixed, in all men alike, in their peculiar seats and defi- 
nite quarters, if it be not that certain spots are assigned to 
each part to be born in, and where each, whatever it be, may 
preserve-its-existence when born ; and if it be not that such 
is the case with respect to the whole of the various members, 
so that there may no where arise an improper arrangement of 
the parts ? So invariably, m the operations of nature, does 
one thing follow another ; nor is fire wont to be produced 
from rivers, or cold to be generated in fire. 

Besides, if the nature of the soul is immortal, and can 
have-a-sentient-existence,' when separated from our body, 

' Nov does any one, when dying, appear to feel, <Src.] Ver. 606. 
The twelfth argument. Who, at death, feels his soul going out en- 
tire from him ? Does it not seem to lose its vitality, throughout the 
body, equally with the various organs of tlie body? 

^ Again, why are the understanding and faculty, <Src.] 61-5. Tlie 
thirteenth argument. Why is the mind always generated in the breast, 
if it be not that a certain part or organ of the body is assigned to it 
as to each of the senses ; an organ with which it is born and with 

which it dies? The whole of the various members.] Ver. 620- 

Multimodis pro totis arfubus ; " multiniodis ' being an adjective 

^ Besides, if sentient existence, ^c] Ver. 624. Tlie four- 

teenth argument. If the soul, after death, is to live and enjoy sense, 
it must have organs of sense ; but it has left the organs of sense 
in the body. 1 have added a few words at the end of the para- 
graph. Lachmann improves the whole of it by reading, in ver. 632, 
anima for animd, according to a conjecture of Pius. 

126 LUCRETIUS. ' B. in. G26— 654. 

we must consider it, as I suppose, to be endowed with the 
five senses ; nor in any other way can we represent to our- 
selves the infernal souls as wandering on the banks of the 
Acheron. Accordingly painters, and the past generations of 
writers, have introduced in their compositions souls thus en- 
dowed with senses. But neither can the eyes, nor the nos- 
trils, nor the hand itself, preserve-existence apart from the 
soul ; nor can the tongue ; nor can the ears perceive hearing, 
or even remain-in-being, apart yVowi the soul. How then can 
souls be possessed of the five senses, when all the organs of 
those senses have perished ? 

And since we see that the vital sense spreads through the 
whole body,' and that the whole is animated, if, on a sud- 
den, any violence shall cut through the body in the middle, so 
as to sever the two parts asunder, the substance of the soul, 
also, without doubt, being disunited and divided together Vv'ith 
the body, will be dispersed and scattered abroad. But that 
which is divided, and separates into any parts, evidently 
shows that it has not an ever-during nature. 

People relate that chariots armed with scythes, warm with 
promiscuous slaughter, often cut off limbs with such sudden- 
ness, that the part which, being severed, has fallen from the 
body, is seen to quiver on the ground, when, notwithstanding, 
the mind and spirit of the man, from the quickness of the 
wound, cannot feel any pain. And because at the .^me time, 
tlie mind, in the ardour of battle, is given up to action, it 
pursues fighting and slaughter with the remainder of the 
body ; nor is 07ie man aware, frequently, in the midst of the 
horses, that the wheels and amputating scythes have carried 
away his left hand, which is lost together with its defence , 
nor is another conscious, while he climbs the wall and presses 
forward, that his right hand has dropped off. A third next 
attempts to rise after having lost his leg, while his dying foot, 
close by him, moves its toes on the ground. And the head of 

' And since vital sense — through the wliole body.] Ver. 634. 

The fifteenth anjument. Since the soul spreads through the body, it 
may be divided with the body; but that which may be divided is 
mortal. Or nhall we say that when a limb is cut off from the body, 
and shows that it retains life in it, there is still in it a soul? But to 
Rssert this would be to assert that one animal has many souls. 

B. III. 655-679. LUCRETIUS. 127 

a fourth, severed from the warm and living trunk, keeps, 
while lying on the ground, its look of life and its eyes open, 
until it has yielded up all remains of the soul within it. 

Moreover, if, when the tongue of a serpent vibrates against 
you, and his tail and long body threaten you, you may feel 
inclined to cut both tail and body into several parts with your 
sword, you will see all the parts separately, cut through with 
the recent wound, writhe about, and sprinkle the earth with 
blood ; and you ivill observe the fore part, turning backward, 
seeking itself, that is, the hinder part of the body, with its 
mouth, so that, pierced with the burning anguish of the 
wound, it may seize it with its teeth. 

Shall we then say that there are entire souls in all those 
several parts ? But from that position it will follow that one 
living creature had several souls in its single body. And since 
this is absurd, we must admit, therefore, that that has been 
divided which was one with the body ; wherefore both must 
be thought to be mortal ; since both are equally divided into 
several portions. 

Besides, if the nature of the soul exists imperishable, and 
is infused into men ' at their birth, why are we unable to re- 
member the period-of-existence previously spent by us, nor 
retain any traces of past transactions ? For if the power of 
the mind is so exceedingly changed, that all remembrance of 
past things has departed from it, that change, as I think, is 
not far removed from death itself. For which reason you 
must of necessity acknowledge, that whatever soul previously 
existed has perished, and that that which exists for the pre- 
sent has been produced for the present. 

Again, if, atter the body is completely formed,^ the vital 

* Besides, if the nature of the soul — infused into men, ^c.] Ver. 
670. The sixteenth argument. " If the soul, being immortal, and 
existing entire, before the formation of the body, is at length in- 
fused into it, (as was the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato,) why has 
no one (Pythagoras alone excepted) remembered his past life? But 
if the soul, thus previously existing, lost all recollection of the past 
at its entrance into the body, why may not that which is subject to 
such a loss of memory, be liable to death itself? " Creech. Comp. 
i. 117. 

* Again, if after the body is completely formed, iS|0.] Ver. 679. 
The seventeenth argument. Were the soul lodged in the body after the 
body is formed, it might be expected to live as an animal in a cage. 

•28 LUCRETIUS. B. fli. 680-703. 

power of the soul is wont to be introduced into us at the very- 
time when we are born and when we cross the threshold of 
life, it would not be in accordance with thib, that it should seem, 
as it now seems, to have grown up in the blood itself together 
with the body, and with its several members ; but it would 
rather be natural that it should live alone, as m a cage, by 
itself ortrf for itself; thougli ifi such a manner, thai the whole 
body, by its in/iuence, should abound with sense and vifaliti/. 
For which reason, / sai/ again and again, we must neither 
think that souls are without beginning, nor that they are exempt 
from the law of death. For neither must we deem that souls, 
if infused into us from without, could have been so completely 
united with our bodies ; (which complete union, on the con- 
trary, manifest experience proves to take place ; for the soul 
is so combined with the body throughout the veins, viscera, 
nerves, and bones, that even the very teeth have a share of 
feeling ; as their aching proves, and the acute-pain from cold 
water, and the cranching of a hard pebble ' suddenly among 
our food;) nor, when they are so completeh/ united, does it 
seem possible for them to come out entire, and to extricate 
themselves unharmed from all the nerves, and bones, and 

But if stdl, perchance, you think that a soul, infused from 
without,- is wont to expand itself through our limbs, yet to 
admit-'this, is only to admit that every man's soul, being spread 
out with the body, will so much the more certainly perish 
with it. For that which is diffused throughout the body, is 
dissolved with it, and therefore perishes. Being distributed, 
then, through all the passages of the body, — as food, when it 

not diffused, as it is throughout the whole substance of the body, 
with which it seems to be born only that it may die with it. 

' The cranching of a hard pebble, jfc] Ver. 69-i. Et lapis oppres- 
s?« subitis e fruffibus asper. Literally, atid a rough stotie pressed -on from 
sudden com, or bread. The feeling in the teeth, he says, shows that 
the soul pervades the teeth. 

 But if still, i)erchance, you think that a soul, infused from with- 
out, *o.] Ver. 698. The eighteenth arr/umeiit. But suppose that a 
soul, formed before the birth of the body, is infused into the body, 
must it not, being so intimately united with the body, be subject to 
change with it, from the influence of different kinds of food, and 
other causes? And must not a being thus subject to change with 
the body, be liable to destruction together with it? 

B. III. 704—722. LUCRETIUS. I2b 

IS distributed through all the members and limbs, is dissolved, 
and takes of itself another nature,' — so the soul and the mind, 
although, under this supposition, they go whole into the body 
at first, yet are dissolved, like digested food, in diffusing them- 
selves tfiroiigh it, while the particles are distributed, as if 
through tubes, into all the limbs ; tlie particles, I say, of which 
is formed this substance of the mind, which now rules in our 
body, and which has been generated, like the new nature of 
food, from tliat which lost its consistence when it Avas spread 
throughout the limbs. 

For which reasons, the nature or substance of the soul seems 
neither to have been without a natal day, nor to be exempt 
from death. 

Again, whether do any atoms of the soul remain^ in a dead 
body, or not ? For if any remain and exist in the hod;/, it Avill 
not be possible for the soul to be justly accounted immortal; 
since when she took her departure, she was diminished of some 
lost particles. But if, when removed, she fled with all her 
parts so entire, that she left no atoms of her substance in the 
body, whence do dead carcasses, when the viscera become pu- 
trid, send forth worms ? And whence does such an abund- 
ance of living creatures, void of bones and blood, swarm over 
the swollen limbs ? 

But if, perchance, you think that perfectly -formed souls 

' Is dissolved, and takes of itself another nature.] \'er. 704. 
Disperit, atqiie aliam naturam sufficit ex se. " Loses its own proper na- 
ture, and forms another substance altogether difi'erent from wliat it 
was at first." Creech. 

As vanish foods, througli every mazy gland, 
Through every limb when urged, to different forms 
Converting gradual. Good. 

Sufficit, that is, (say Lambinus and Faber,) " suppeditat, subminis- 
trat." The food, by being dissolved, supplies, furnishes, presents, 
exhibits, is converted into, a substance of a different nature from 
that which it had at first. — The soul and the mind — are dissolved.] 
Dissoludntur. He means that, while the soul v.-(iidd be expanded 
throughout the body, its original consistence would be much altered, 
many of its particles being detached from others by intervening 
particles of the body. 

^ Again, whether do any atoms of the soul remain, &c.] Ver. 713. 
llie nineteenth argument. When a man is dead, does any portion of the 
soul remain in the dead body? If none remains, how are worms 
animated? If any remains, how can tlie soul be pronounced indis- 
soluble and imperishable ? 


130 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 723-743, 

may be insinuated into those worms from without, and if you 
suppose tliat they may pass each into its own body, and yet 
omit to consider for wiiat cause many thousands of souls sliouki 
congrepjate in the place from which one soul has withdrawn, 
tliis point, however, which you leave out of consideration, is 
of such a nature, that it seems especially worthy to be sought 
into and brought under examination. It is proper not only 
to reflect, I say, whether souls hunt for particular atoms of 
worms, and build for themselves carcasses in which they may 
dwell, or whether they infuse themselves into bodies already 
made ; but also to consider that there is no reason to be given ' 
why they should make bodies, or why they should labour at 
all; for, while they are without a body, they fly about undis- 
turbed by diseases, and cold, and hunger ; since it is the body 
that rather laboui's under these maladies, (as well as from 
death,) and the soul suffers all evils from contact with it. 
But, nevertheless, let it be as advantageous as you please for 
these souls to make a body which they may enter, there seems, 
however, to be no means by which they may make it. // is 
fair, therefore, to conclude that souls do not make for them- 
selves bodies and limbs. Nor yet is there a possibility, as it 
appears, that they can be infused into bodies perfectly-formed ; 
ibr neither under that supposition can they be exactly fitted 
together ; nor will their mutual-motions be carried on with 

Furthermore, why does violent rage^ attend upon the sullen 
breed of lion.s, and craft upon that o/" foxes ; and why is flight 
communicated to stags from their sires, and ivhy does hereditary 

' Reason to be given, <S|-c.] Ver. 731. Dieere suppedifat. In 
ver. TiZ, .finis is used for mors, as is frequently the case in Tacitus. 

^ Fm-thermore, why does violent rage, cSfc.j Ver. 741. The twe7u 
tieth argument, directed against the Pythagoreans. If souls, as the 
followers of Pythagoras declare, remain immortal, and pass from 
body to body, how is it that, occasionally, the dispositions of animals 
have not been varied by a difference in the souls that have passed 
into them? How is it, for example, that the soul of a lion, passing 
into a stag, lias never produced a lion-like stag, or that a human 
soul, passing into a horse, has never made a rational horse? Or, 
supposing human souls restricted to human bodies, how is it that 
the sold of a man, passing into a child, has never produced a mature- 
minded child? What reason can be given for the non-occurrence 
of such phenomena, but that no such transmigrations take place, and 
that in every individual body its own particular soul is generated, 
grows, and decays? 

B. III. 744-771. LUCRETIUS. 131 

fear add speed to their limbs ? And as to other qualities of 
this sort, why do they all generate, in the body and temper- 
ament, from the earliest period of life, if it be not because a 
certain disposition of mind grows up together with each body 
from its own seed and stock ? But if the soul were immortal, 
and were accustomed, as the Pythagoreans think, to change 
bodies, surely animals would gradually alter, and grow of 
mixed dispositions ; the dog of Hyrcanian breed would often 
flee from the assault of the horned stag ; the hawk, flying 
thi'ough the air of heaven, would tremble at the approach of 
the dove ; men would lose their understanding, and the savage 
tribes of wild beasts become reasonable. 

For that which some assert, namely, that an immortal soul 
is altered by a change of body, is advanced upon false reason- 
ing ; as that which is altered, loses its consistence, and there- 
fore perishes ; since the parts are transposed, and depart from 
their original arrangement ; wherefore the parts of the soul, 
under this hypothesis, must also be subject to dissolution 
throughout the limbs ; so that finally they may all perish to- 
gether with the body. 

But if they shall say that the souls of men always migrate 
into human bodies, I shall nevertheless ask, why a soul, from 
being wise m a wise body, should possibly become foolisli in 
the body of a fool; why no child \'s, found discreet, or inform- 
ed with a soul of mature understanding, and why no foal of 
a mare is as skilful in his paces as the horse of full vigour ? 
tchy, I say, is this, if it be not because a certain temper of 
niind grows up with each body from its own seed and stock ? 
These philosophers, forsooth, will take refuge in the assertion,' 
that the mind becomes tender in a tender body ; but if this 
be the case, you must admit that the soul is mortal, since, 
being so exceedingly changed in its new body, it loses its 
former vitality and powers. 

Or in what way will the vigour of a soul,^ strengthened in 

' Take refuge in the assertion.] Ver. 769. " Confugiont eo 
scilicet, lit dicant nientem tenerascere in corpore tenero. " Lambi- 
nus. But if the soul is thus changed, it must be mortal, for what- 
ever is immortal is imchangeable. 

* Or in what way will the vigour of a soul, 4fc.] Ver. 770. Having 
hitherto fought with his heavy battalions, says Creech, he now 
brings forward his light troops, and adds six argimients of a less 
forcible character. I shall Giit\t\eihe&e, additional observatioiiM. The 

K 2 

'32 LUCRETIUS E. in. 772-795. 

concert with eacli particular body, be able to reach with it 
the desired liower of mature age, unless it shall be joined to it 
in its first oriprin ? Or with what motive does the soul go 
forth from limbs that are grown old ? Does it fear to remain 
imprisoned in a decaying-carcass, lest it should decay with it? 
Or is it afraid h'st its tenement, shaken with a long course of 
life, should fall and overwhelm it? But to that which is 
immortal, there ai'e no such dangers. 

Moreover, to imagine that souls stand ready ^ at the amor- 
ous intercourses, or parturitions, of beasts, to enter into the 
young, seems exceedingly ridiculous. It appears too absurd to 
suppose that immortal beings, in infinit(i numbers, should 
wait foi- mortal bodies, and contend emulously among them- 
selves which shall be first and foi'emost to enter ; — unless per- 
chance you suppose tliat agreements have been made among 
the souls, that the first which shall have come flying to the 
body, shall have fii'st ingress, and that they may thus have 
no contest in strength with one another. 

Again, neither can a tree exist in the sky,- nor clouds in 
the deep sea; ■aor can fish live in the fields; nor blood be 
in wood, nor liquid in stones. It is fixed and arranged where 
every thing may grow and subsist ; thus the nature or sub- 
stance of the mind cannot spring up alone without the body, 
or exist apart from the nerves and the blood. Whereas if this 
could happen, the power of the mind might at times rather 
arise in the head or the shoulders, or the bottom of the heels, 
and might rather accustom itself togrow in any place, than to re- 
main in the same man and in the same receptacle.'' But since 
it seems fixed and appointed also in our own body, where the 

first is, that if the soul were independent of the body, and not born 
with it, it would hardly desire to live in it from its infancy to its 
maturity, and, if not afraid to die with it, would hardly be always 
found to leave it at an advanced age. 

' Moreover, to imcujine that souls stand ready, l}c.'\ Ver. 777. 
The second additional observation. That it is ridicidous to suppose tliat 
immortal beings should contend for mortal bodies. 

* Again, neither can a tree exist in the sky, &;c.'] Ver. 785. The 
third additional observation. That, as every animal and vegetable 
production grows and dies in its proper place, so it is to be consider- 
ed that the sovd of a man grows and dies in and with his body. 

' In the same receptacle.] Ver. 7!)4. /« eodem vase. He seems 
to refer to what he said above, ver. lU, as to the mind being situ- 
ated in media regione pectoris. 

i. III. 796-829 LUCRETIUS. 133 

soul and the mind may subsist and grow up by themselves, it 
is so much the more to be denied that tliey can endure and be 
produced out of the entire body. For which reason, when the 
body has perished, you must necessarily admit that the soul, 
which is diffused throughout the body, has perished with it. 

Besides, to join the mortal to the immortal,' and to suppose 
that they can sympatliize together, and perform mutual opera- 
tiom, is to think absurdly ; for what can be conceived more 
at variance ivilh reason., or more inconsistent and irreconcila- 
l)le in itself, than that that wliich is mortal, joined to that which 
is imperishable and eternal, should submit to enduiMi violent 
storms and trouhJes in combination loith it? 

Fui'ther, whatsoever bodies i-emain eternal,^ must either, as 
being of a solid consistence, repel blows, and suffer nothing to 
penetrate them, that can disunite their compact parts witliin ; 
(such as are the prirnary-particles of matter, the nature of 
which we have sliown above ;) or they must be able to en- 
dure throughout all time, because they are free from blows, 
or unsusceptible of them ; (as is a vacuum, which remains in- 
tangilde, and suflers nothing from a stroke ;) or they must be 
Videstructible for this reason, that there is no sutHciency of 
space round about, into which their co??.s^«7?/ew^ substances ma}', 
as it were, separate and be dissolved ; (as the entire universe is 
eternal, inasmuch as there is neither any space without it into 
wliich its parts may disperse; nor are there any bodies 
which may fall upon it, and break it to pieces by a violent 
concussion :) but, as I have shown, neither is the nature of 
the soul of a solid consistence, since with all compound bodies 
vacuum is mixed ; nor is it like a vacuum itself; nor, again, 
are bodies wanting, which, rising fortuitously from the infi- 
nite of thinr/s, may overturn this frame of the mind with a 
violent tempest, or bring upon it some other kind of disaster 
and danger; nor, moreover, is vastness and profundity of 
space wanting, into which the substance of the soul may be 
dispersed, or may otherwise perish a>id be overwhelmed by 
any other kind of force. The gate of death, therefore, is 
not shut against the mind and soul. 

' Besides, to join the mortal to the immortal, Ac-] ^er. 801. 
Theyo;//'</i additional observation. That tlie immortal cannot well con- 
sort with tlie mortal. 

- Further, wliatsoever bodies remain eternal, <?fc.] Ver. 807. The 
fifth additional obseriation. That tor certain other reasons, (fully set 
forth in the text,) the soul cannot be imperishable. 

134 LUCRETIUS. b. in. 830— 863. 

But if perchance the soul, in the opi?no7i of any, is to be 
accounted immortal the more on this account,^ that it is kept 
fortified by things preservative of life ; or because objects 
adverse to its safety do not all approach it ; or because those 
that do approach, being by some means diverted, retreat be- 
fore v^^e can perceive what injury they inflict : the notion oj" 
those who think thus is evidently far removed from just rea- 
soning. For besides that it sickens from diseases of the body, 
there often happens something to trouble it concerning fu- 
ture events, and keep it disquieted in fear, and it 
with cares ; while remorse for faults, from past acts wickedly 
and foolishly committed, torments and distresses it. Join 
to these afflictions the insanity peculiar to the mind, and tlie 
oblivion of all things ; and add, besides, that it is often sunk 
into the black waves of letliargy. 

Death, therefore, is nothing, nor at all concerns us, since 
the nature or substance of the soul is to be accounted mortal. 
And as, in past time, we felt no anxiety, when the Cartha- 
ginians gathered on all sides to fight with our forefathers, and 
when all things under the lofty air of heaven, shaken with the 
dismaying tumult of war, trembled with dread ; and men were 
uncertain to the sway of which power every thing human, by 
land and by sea, was to fall ; so, when we shall cease to be, 
when there shall be a separation of tlie body and soul of which 
we are conjointly composed, it is certain that to us, who shall 
not then exist, nothing will by any possibility happen, or e.x- 
cite our feeling, not even if the earth shall be mingled with 
the sea, and the sea with the heaven. 

And even if the substance of the mind, and the powers of 
tlie soul, after they have been separated from our body, still 
retain-their-faculties, it is nothing to us, who subsist only as 
being conjointly constituted by an arrangement and union of 
body and soul togethei'. Nor, if time should collect our ma- 
terial-atoms after death, and restore them again as they are 
now placed, and the light of life should be given back to us, 
would it yet at all concern us that this were done, when the 
recollection of our existence has once been interrupted. And 

' But if immortal the more on this account, S^c.'] Ver. 830. 

The sixth additional ohservatinn. That if any think the mind unas 
saihible by trouble and disease, which cause weakness and deca" 
experience refutes them. 

B. lu 8C4— 874. LUCRETIUS. 135 

it is now oF no importance to us, in regard to ourselves, what 
we were before ; ' nor does any solicitude affect us in reference 
to those whom a new age shall produce from our matter, 
should it again be brought together as it is at present. For 
when you consider the whole past space of infinite time, and 
reflect how various are the motions of matter, you may easily 
believe that our atoms have often been placed in the same 
^rder as that in lehich they now are. Yet we cannot i-evive 
that time in our memory ; for a pause of life has been tlirown 
between, and all tlie motions of our atoms ^ have wandered 
liither and thither, far-away from sentient-movements. For 
he, among men noio living, to Avhom misery and pain^ are to 

' It is of no importance to us, what we were before.] Ver. 864. 

Et nunc nil ad nos de nobis attinet ante 
Quel fuimiis. 
Supposing that the atoms of a man who lives now, existed ages ago 
in the same combination, that is, formed the same person, (of which 
he admits the possibility in ver. 870,) it is of no importance to him 
what lie did or suffered then, since death has intervened and inter- 
rupted all consciousness and mrtnorj'. Interruptasemel qmim sit rejje- 
tentia tiostris, sc. rebus (ver. 863) ; as Wakefield and Forbiger have 
it; Lambinus and his followers read nostra; Lachmann gives re^!*- 
nentia iiostri. 

^ All the motions of oi»- atoms, Sfc.'j Ver. 872, 873. 
Inter enim jecta est vital pausa, vagcque 
De 'rrSrunt passim motus ab sensibus omnes. 
" Morte enim vita fuit interrupta, motusque omnes, quibus jactata 
erant semina, erant a sensiferis motibus plane diversi." Creech. 
Because a pause of life, a gaping space, 
Has come betwixt, where memory lies dead, 
And all the wandering motions from the sense are fled. 

The atoms of the body at its dissolution, became mere brute sense- 
less matter. 

' For he, among men imio living, to whom misery and pain, 4icO 
Ver. 874, seq. This passage, as given by Wakefield and copied 
by Forbiger, is one of the most unsatisfactory in Lucretius. In 
Lambinus's edition, and all others before Wakefield, the passage 
stood thus : 

Debet enim, miser^ quoi forte segreque futurum est. 
Ipse quoque esse in eo turn tempore, quom malb possit 
Accidere: At quoniam mors eximit im [for eiun,J prohibetque 
Ilium quoi possint incommoda conciliari 
Hsec eadem in quibus et nunc nos sumus, ante fuisse ; 
Scire licet nobis nil esse in morte timendnm. 
This state of the text gave very clear and straiglitforward sense; 


L'JCRETIUS. B. HI. 870—878 

liappen after /lis death, must himself exist again, in his own 
idoiliti/, at that \er_y time on which the evil lohich he is to 
suffer may liuvci ]xjwer to fall ; but since deatli, ivhich inter- 
rupts all consciousness, and prevents all memory of the past, 
I'.recludes the possibility of this ; and since the circumstance of 
having previously existed, prohibits him who lived before, and 
with whom these calamities ivhich ive suffer miglit be asso- 

but Wakefield, referring to his MSS., pronoimced the passage to be 
infected with nmla scabies, of whicli learned men should have been, and re-modelled the whole thus: 

Debet enim misere est quoi forte ssgreque futurum, 
Ipse quoque esse in eo tum tempore, quoi male possit 
Adcidere : id quoniam mors eximit, esseque prohiLiet 
lUum, quoi j)ossint incommoda conciliari 
Hajc eadem, quibus e mmc nos sumus, ante fuisse ; 
Scire licet, &c. 

Giving the following as the order and sense: "Quoniam mors ex- 
imit id, et {to) fuisse ante prohibet ilium, cui hcec incommoda pos- 
sint conciliari, esse eadem (semina), e quibus nos nunc sumus 
(compositi)." According to this interpretation, there ought to be a 
comma after TIccc, but there is not,, either in any edition of Wake- 
field, or in those of Eichstadt and Forbiger, who both copied him. 
As I have followed Wakefield's text, I have also followed, as the 
reader will see, his interpretation ; but surely to make ante fuisse 
tiie nominative case to iwohihet, to refer h(Bc to incommoda, and to 
couple eadem with the remote esse, can be satisfactory to few. Lach- 
mann, the last editor, makes a transposition of a verse, which I 
cannot exhibit to the reader without transcribing a few previous 
lines : 

Facile hoc adcredere possis, 
Semina saepe in eodem, ut nunc sunt, ordine posta 
Htec eadem, quibus e mmc nos sumus, ante fuisse : 
Nee memori tamcn id quimus repraehendere mente : 
Inter enim jcctast vital pausa, vageque 
Deerrarunt passim motus a sensibus omnes. 
Debet enim, misere si forte aegreque futurumst, 
Ipse quoque esse in eo tum tempore, cui male possit 
Accidere : id quoniam mors eximit, esseque probet (for prohibet) 
Ilium cui possit incommoda conciliari, 
Scire licet nobis, S^c. 

This may be partly right, but, if I may venture to express an 
opinion, I should say that no alteration will restore the passage to 
its genuine state, imless it be such as shall, by whatever method, 
join conciliari with semina; for concilia, conciliahis, and concilium, are 
words which Lucretius delights to apply to his atoms; and the 
phrase " wconnnoda conciliari " could hardly be regarded, in any 
(,nit a comic author, (male conciliati occurs in Plaut. Pseud, i. 2, 1,) 
ollierwise than with suspicion. 

B. in. 879-90.5. 

LLXllETIUS. 137 

elated, from existing a second time, {ivith any recollection of 
his other life,) as the same combination of atoms of which we 
now consist, we may be assured that in death there is nothing 
to be dreaded by us ; that he who does not exist, cannot be- 
come miserable ; and that it makes not the least difference to 
a man, when immortal death has ended his mortal life, that 
he was ever born at all. 

Whenever, therefore, you see a man express concern that 
it should be his lot after death either to putrify on the ground 
■vvheu his body is laid aside, or to be destroyed by flames, or 
bv the jaws of wild beasts, you may know that his mind is 
r.'ot in a healthy state, and that some secret disquietude as to 
his fate is concealed in his breast, although he may himself 
deny tliat he believes any consciousness will remain to him 
after death. For, as I think, he does not make good what he 
professes, nor speaks from conviction, from whicli he i^etends 
to speak ;' nor withdraws and removes himself, in thought, 
wholly out of life, but, foolish as he is, makes something of 
himself still to survive. For when any one of such a character 
represents to himself, while alive, that birds and beasts will 
tear his body at death, he is seized with conmiiseration for 
himself; for neither does he at all distinguish himself dead 
from himself living, nor sufficiently withdraw himself from 
his exposed carcass ; but supposes it to be still himself, and 
standing by it, m imagination, communicates to it a portion 
of liis own feeling. Hence he is concerned that he was born 
mortal, nor reflects that in real death there will remain of him 
no other self, which, surviving, may mourn for him tliat he 
has perished, and, standing upright, may lament that he, lying 
down, is torn in pie(!es or burnt to ashes. For if it is an evil 
at death, to be z7/-treated by the jaws and teeth of wild beasts, 
I do not see how it can be otherwise than unpleasant for a 
man, being laid on a fimeral-iijre, to burn in hot flames, 
or, placed in honey, to be suflbcated,^ or to grow stiff with 
cold, when he is lying on the highest flat of a gelid rock, or 

1 From co7ivictlo>i, from which he pretends to speak.'] Vev. 889. Non 
— dat quod proynittit et undo. " Unde promiserat se daturum." Wake- 
tield. He does not speak from sincere belief, as he professes to speak. 
— A little below, " foolish as he ia " answers to inscius, which Creech, 
I think rightly, interjtrets stultus. 

^ Placed in honey, to be suffocated.] Ver. 90i. In mclle situm, 
ruffocari. A mode of burial amon^ the ancients. Xenophon (Hel- 

^^^ LUCRETIUS. B. in. 906-937. 

to 1)8 pres5ed down and overwhelmed with the weight of su- 

ix'rincuinhcnt earth. 

" For now," men say, " your pleasant home shall no more 
receive you, nor your excellent wife; nor shall your dear 
';hildren run to snatch kisses, and touch your breast Avith 
secret delight. You will no more be able to be in flourishing 
circumstances, and to be a protection to your friends. Un- 
happily, one adverse day has taken from you, unfortunate 
man, all the numerous i)lessings of life." In such remarks 
they do not add this, " Nor now, moreover, does any regret 
for those things remain with you." ' Which truth if men would 
well consider in their thoughts, and adhere to it in their words, 
they would relieve themselves from much anxiety and fear of 
mind, " You, for your part," says a mourner over a corpse, 
" laid to sleep in your bed, will so remain as you are for what- 
ever time is to come, released from all distressing griefs ; but 
we, standing near you, shall inconsolably lament you reduced to 
ashes on the awful pyre ; and no lapse of time shall remove our 
unfading sorrow from our hearts." Of him, however, who 
makes such lamentations, we may ask this question, "If the 
matter of death is reduced to sleep and rest, what can there be 
so bitter in it, that any one should pine in eternal grief /or 
the decease of a friend'^''' 

This also is often a practice among men, that when they 
have sat down to a feast, and hold their cups in their hands, 
and overshadow their faces with chaplets, they say seriously 
and from their hearts, " This enjoyment is but shoi-t to us 
little men ; soon it will have passed ; nor will it ever here- 
after be possible to recall it." As if at their death this evil 
were to be dreaded above all, that parching thirst should scorch 
and burn up the wretches, or an insatiable lonsring; for some 
other thing should settle on them. Yet hoiv different will be 
the fact! Since not even when the mind and body are merehf 
at rest together in sleep, will any one feel concern for himself 
and his life ; for, for our parts, our sleep might thus be eternal ; 
nor does any care for ourselves affect us ; and yet, at that sea- 
son, the atoms, throughout our limbs, withdraw to no <rreat 
distance from sensible motions,^ and the man who is suddenly- 

len. r. 3, 19) mentions that Agesipolis, one of the Spartan kings, 
was buried in this way. 

' Remain with you.] Ver. 015. Insidet una. 

^ Witlulraw t( no great distance from sensible motions.] Ver. 937. 

B. III. 938—970. LUCEETIUS. 1 39 

roused from sleep quickly recollects himself. Death, then, we 
must consider to be of far less concern to us, if less can be than 
that which we see to be nothing. For a greater separation of 
the atoms of matter takes place in death, nor does any man 
awake when once the cold pause of life has overtaken him. 

Furthermore, if universal nature should suddenly utter' 
a voice, and thus herself upbraid any one of us: "What 
jnighty cause have you, mortal, thus excessively to in- 
dulge in bitter grief? Why do you groan and weep, at the 
(Iwiight of death ? For if your past and former life has been 
an object of gratification to you, and all your blessings have 
not, as if poured into a leaky vessel, flowed away and been 
lost without pleasure, why do you not, O unreasonable man, 
retire like a guest satisfied with life, and take your undisturbed 
rest with resignation ? But if those things, of which you have 
had the use, have been wasted and lost, and life is offensive 
to you, why do you seek to incur further trouble,^ which may 
all again pass away and end in dissatisfaction ? Why do you not 
rather put an end to life and anxiety ? For there is nothing 
further, which I can contrive and discover to please you ; every 
thing is always the same. If your body is not yet withered 
with years, and your limbs are not worn out and grown feeble, 
yet all things remain the same, even if you should go on to out- 
last all ages in living ; and still more ivould you see them 
the same, if you should never come to die." What do we 
answer to this, but that Nature brings a just charge against 
us, and sets forth in her words a true allegation ? 

But would she not more justly reproach and upbraid, in se- 
vere accents, him who, being miserable unreasonably, deplores 
death ? "Away with thy tears, wretch," she might tvell say," and 
forbear thy complaints." But if he who is older, and more 
advanced in years, complain, she may retort thus: " Alter 
having been possessed of all the most valuable things of life, 
thou pinest and wastest away tvith age. But, because thou 
always desirest what is absent, and despisest present ad- 

Haudquaquam lo7ige ah sensiferis motibus errant. Compare ver. 

873. Deerrdrunt passim motus ab sensibus oynnes. 

' If UNIVERSAL NATURE should Suddenly utter, <Sfc.] Ver. 944. 
" So Cicero, in his 1st Oration against Catiline, introduces his Coun- 
try speaking; and Plato the Laws in his Apology." Latubinus. 

^ Incur further trouble.] Ver. 954. Amplius addere — mali. Others 
tead male, which, taken with^erea^, makes better sense. 

'"^^^ LUCRETIUS. E. HI. 971-9'J8. 

vantages, life has passed from thee imperfect and unsatisfactory, 
and death has stood hy tliy head unawares, and b(>fore thoii 
canst depart content and satisfied with thy circumstances. 
Now, however, resign all things unsuitable to thy age, and 
yield at once, with submissive feelings, to that which is 
stvowr er t/icm t/iou;^ for it is necessary." And juf,t\y, as I 
think, would she address him; justly would slie upbraid and re- 
proach him ; for that wliicli is old, driven out by that which is 
new, always retires, and it is indispensable to rejjair one thin" 
out of another ; nor is any man consigned to the <^u\( of Erebtis, 
or black Tartarus, but allowed to retire peaceabli/ to n dream- 
less sleep. The matter, of ichich thou art made, is wanted 
hi/ nature tiiat succeeding generations may grow up from it ; 
all which,^ however, when they liave passed their appointed 
term of hi'e, will follow thee : and so haxe other generations, 
before these, fallen into destruction; and other generations, 
not less certainly than thyself, will fall. Thus shall one thinc^ 
never cease to rise from another ; and thus is life given to 
none in possession, but to all onlj/ for use. 

Consider, also, how uttei'ly unimportant to us was the past 
antiquity of infinite time, that elapsed before we were born. 
This, then, nature exhibits to us as a specimen of the time 
which will be again after our death. For what does there 
appear terrible in it ? Does any thing seem gloomy ? Is not 
all more free from trouble than any sleep ? 

And of the souls likewise, whatever are said to be in the 
profundity of Acheron, all the sufferings happen to ourselves, 
not in death, but in life. Tantiilus, torpid with vain terror, 
does not (as it is reported) fear the huge rock impending over 
him in the air ; but such terror rather dwells with us in life ; 
a groundless fear of the gods oppresses mortals, and they dread 
that fall which fortune may assign to each. 

Nor do vultures penetrate into Tityus, lying in Hades; 
nor, however they might search ^ in his huge breast, would 

' Yield at once, with submissive feelings, to that which is stronger- 
than thou.] Vcr. 975. ^liquo ani)noque,ar!edum,7na(jnis concede. Wake- 
field considers that w«f/«w means persons; Orellius (in his £c%ce 
Poet. Latinonun) thinks that it is the neuter plural, but supposes the 
meaning to be, depart from great things, i. e. pleasures or enjoyments. 
I think that " dire necessity's supreme command " is intended- 

* Nor, however they might search, *c.] Ver. 998. Nee quid sub 

£. III. 9.J9-1031. LUCRETIUS. HI 

they be able to find, through infinite time, any thing to devour, 
of however vast an extent of body he may be, even tJiough it 
be such as may cover, with its limbs outspread, not merely 
nine acres, but the orb of the whole earth ; nor yet would he 
be able to endure etei-nal pain, or to supply food incessantly 
from his own body ; but he is a Tityus among us, whom, 
lying under tJie iirftiience q/love, the vultures of passion tear, 
and anxious disquietude devours ; or whom cares, with any 
other unbecoming-feeling, lacerate. 

A Sisyphus, likewise, is before our eyes in life, who sets 
his heart ^ to solicit from the people the fasces and sharp axes, 
and always retires repulsed and disappointed. For to seek 
power, which is empty, nor is ever granted, and constantly to 
endure hard labour in the pursuit of it, this is to push with 
effort the stone up the hill, which yet is rolled down again from 
the summit, and impetuously seeks tlie level of the open plain. 

To feed pei'petually, moreover, an ungrateful nature, and 
to fill it with good things, and never to satisfy it; a kindness 
which the seasons of the year do to us, as they come round 
in their course, and bring their fruits and various charms: 
whilst we, notwithstanding, are never satisfied with the bless- 
ings of life ; this is, I think, that which they relate of the 
damsels in the flower of their youth, that they pour water into 
a punctured vessel, which, however, can by no means be filled. 

But also Cerberus and the Furies are mentioned, and pri- 
vation of light, and Tartarus, casting forth fires iroin its jaws, 
objects which are no where, nov indeed can be ; but there is, 
in life, an eminent dread of punishment for enormous crimes ; 
there is the prison, the reward of guilt, and the terrible preci- 
pitation, of those u'ho are condemned, from the rock ; there 
are stripes, executioners, the wooden-horse,^ pitch, hot iron, 
fire-brands ; and though these may be absent, yet the mind, 

mac/no scndentur pectore. Observe that the qtdd is for quantumcunque, 
or utcu7ique. 

' Sets his heart.] Ver. 1010. Imbihit. " Imbibif petere h induxit in 
animiun petere." Lambinus. 

^ Stripes, executioners, the wooden-horse, &c.'\ Ver. 1030. Ver- 
bera, carnijices, robiir, pix, lamina, tadcE, By robur is meant the ma- 
chine called equulens, or little horse, on which slaves were placed to 
be tortm-ed. By ttedoi is signified either firebrands, or lighted 
torclies, applied to tlie person, or wood to which the suft'erer was 
fixed, and to which Juvenal, i. loJ, alludes. 

^"^2 LUCRETIUS. B. in. 1032-1059. 

conscious of evil deeds, feeling dread in anticipation, applies 
to itself stings, and tortures itself \\\i\\. scourges, nor sees, iu 
the mean tin)e, what end there can be of its' sufferings, nor 
v/hat can be tlie limit of its punishment, and fears rather lest 
these same tortures should become heavier at deatli. Hence, 
in fine, the life of fools becomes, as it were, an existence in 

This reflection, likewise, you may at times address to your- 
self. "Even the good Ancus," as Ennius expresses it, " has de- 
serted the light with his eyes," i who was much better in many 
things than thou, worthless man ! Besides, many other kings, 
and rulers of affairs, who swayed mighty nations, have yielded 
up the ghost. And what am I better than they ? 

He, even, himself, who formerly paved a road over the 
vast sea, and afforded a way to his legions to pass through 
the deep, and taught them to walk on foot through salt faults, 
and despised the murmurs of the ocean, trampling on it with 
his cavalry; even he, I say, the light of life being withdrawn 
from him, poured forth his soul from liis dying body. 

Scipio, the thunderbolt of war, the dread of Carthage, gave 
his bones to the earth, just as if he had been the meanest 

Add to these, the inventors of the sciences and the graces ; 
add the associates of the muses ; over whom the unrivalled 
Homer having obtained the supremacy, has been laid to rest 
in the same sleep with others. 

Wiien mature old age, too, gave Democritus warning that 
the mindful motions ^ of his intellect were languishing, he him- 
self, of his own accord, offered his head to death. 

Epicurus himself, having run through his light of life,^ is 
dead ; Epicurus, who excelled the human race in genius, and 
threw all into the shade, as the ethereal sun, when risintr, 
obscures the stars. 

Wilt thou, then, hesitate, and grudge to die, in whom, even 
while living and seeing, life is almost dead? Thou, 


' Even the ^ood Ancus has deserted the lip:ht witli his eyes.] 

^'er. 1038. Luminn. sis oculis, &;c. These words were taken by Lu- 
cretius iVom Ennius, and are given by Festus under sos. 

 Mindful motions.] Ver. lO-iS. Memores viotus. 

^ Having run through his light of life.] Ver. 1055. Deourso lii- 
niine vita;. "A nietaplior from the sun," says Wakefield, "who 
runs his daily course of light." 

n III.. 1060— 1094. LUCRETIUS. 143 

wastest the greater part of existence in sleep, and snorest 
waking, nor ceasest to see dreams, and bearest a mind dis- 
turbed with empty terror ; nor canst thou, frequently, dis- 
cover what evil affects thee, when, stupified and wretched, 
thou art oppressed witli numerous cares on all sides, and, 
fluctuating with uncertain thought, wanderest in error? 

If men could feel, as they seem to feel, that there is an 
oppression on their minds, which wearies them with its 
weigfit, and could also perceive from what causes it arises, 
and whence so great a mass, as it were, of evil exists in their 
breasts, they would not live in the manner in which we 
generally see them living ; for we observe them uncertain what 
they would have, and always inquiringybr something new; and 
changing their place, as if by the change they could lay aside 
a load. 

He, who has grown weary of remaining at home, often 
goes forth from his vast mansion, and suddenly returns, inas- 
much as he perceives that he is nothing bettered by being 
abroad. He runs precipitately, hurrying on his horses, to his 
villa, as if he were eager to carry succour to an edifice on 
fire ; but, as soon as he has touched tlie threshold of the 
building, he yawns, or falls heavily to sleep, and seeks for- 
getfulness of himself , or even with equal haste goes back and 
revisits the city. 

In this way each man flees from himself; but himself, as it 
aliirays liappens, whom he cannot escape, and whom, he still 
hates, adheres to him in spite of his efforts ; and for this rea- 
son, that tlie sick man does not know the cause of his disease, 
which if every one could understand, he would, in the first 
place, having laid aside all other pursuits, study to learn the 
NATURE OF THINGS ; since in such inquiries the state of eter- 
nity, not of one hour merely, is concerned ; a state in which 
the whole age of mortals, whatever remains after death, must 

Besides, why does so pernicious and so strong desire of ex- 
istence compel us to remain anxious in uncertain perils ? A 
certain bound of life is fixed to mortals ; nor can death be 
avoided, or can we exempt ourselves from undergoing it. 

Moreover, we are continually engaged and fixed in the 
same occupations ; nor, by the prolongation of life, is any 
new pleasure discovered. Yet that which we desire, seems, 


B. III. 1095—1107 

while it is distant in the. future, to excel all other objects ; 
hut afterwards, when it has fallen to our lot, we covet some- 
tiiing else ; and thus a uniform thirst of life occupies us, long- 
ing earnestly for thnt which is to come ; while what fate tlie 
last period may bring us, or what chance may throw in our 
way, or what death awaits us, still remains in uncertainty. 

Nor, by protracting life, do we deduct a single moment 
from the duration of death; we cannot diminish auglit' from 
its reign, or cause that we may be I'or a less j)eriod sunk in 
non-existence. How many generations soever, therefore, we 
may pass in life, nevertheless that same eternal death will still 
await us. Nor Avill he be less long out of being,''^ who ter- 
minated his life under this day's sun, than he who died many 
months and years ago. 

' We cannot diminish augh.t.] Ver. 1101. Nee deUbrare valemxis. 
" Delibrare " is, to strip Lark from a tree. 

- Nor will he be less lono^ out of being, Ar.] Ver. 1105. Kec mimts 

tile diu jam non erit, et ille. It is requisite to translate et (like ae 

or atqne) by than. 



Aiter an exordium, (ver. 1 — 25,) in which Lucretius speaks of his subject, Aiid 
his mode of recommending it, he proceeds to treat of the images of Epi- 
curus, by which the senses are excited, ver. 26 — 45. He shows that images, 
of exquisite subtlety, are emitted from the surfaces of objects, which are 
for the most jjart \mseen, but which are observed when reflected from a 
mirror, or any smooth surface, ver. 46^108. Besides these images de- 
tached from bodies, there are others spontaneously generated in the air, 
ver. 109 — 216. He demonstrates that vision is produced by the impact of 
images on the eyes, ver. 217 — 239. He then solves various questions re- 
lating to images in mirrors, and to Hght and shade, ver. 240 — 379. He 
shows that the senses may be tioisted, though some would question their 
evidence ; and that false opinions arise from false reasoning about the 
testimony of the senses, ver. 380 — 469. Pursues the subject more fullj-, 
refuting the Academics, ver. 470 — 523. Proceeding to the other senses, 
he asserts that voice and sounds are of a corporeal substance, and dis- 
courses on the nature and foimation of the voice, ver. 524 — 565. Speaks of 
the diffusion, reverberation, and penetration of sounds, ver. 566—617, 
Treats of taste and odour, and their diversities, ver. 618 — 724. Shows 
that imagination and thought are produced by means of images, which 
penetrate the body through the senses, ver. 725—759. Explains the na- 
ture of dreams, and why a man thinks of that on which he wishes to 
think, ver. 760—808. Shows how we are often deceived by images, ver. 
809—823. Proceeds to prove that the organs of the body were produced 
before the use of them was discovered ; that they were not designed for 
use, but that it was found out, after they were formed, that they could be 
used, ver. 824 — 878. That motion in animals arose from the motions of 
images, ver. 879 — 908. He then speaks more fully of sleep and dreams, 
of which he suggests various causes, ver. 908 — 1035. Of love, desire, ard 
their influence, ver. 1036—1283. 

146 LUCRETIUS. r.. iv. 1—26 

I RANGE over the trackless regions • of the Muses, trodden 
before by the foot of no poet. It delights ine to approach the 
untasted fountains, and to drink ; and it transports me to 
})luck tlie fresh flowers, and to obtain a distinguished chaplet 
for my head from thoi^e ff roves whence the Muses have hitherto 
veiled the temples of no one. In the first place, because I 
give instruction concerning mighty tilings, and i)roceed to free 
the mind from the closely-confining shackles of religion ; in 
the next place, because I compose such lucid verses concern- 
ing so obscure a subject, affecting every thing with the grace 
of poetry. Since such ornament, also, seems not uvjustijiable 
or without reason. But as physicians, wlien they attempt to 
give bitter wormwood to children, first tinge the rim round 
the cup with the sweet and yellow liquid of honey, that the 
age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious, may find the lips de- 
luded, and may in the mean time drink of the bitter juice of 
the wormwood, and, tliough deceived, may not be injured, but 
rather, recruited by such a process, may recover strength : so 
now I, since this argument seems, in general, too sevei'e and 
forbidding to those by whom it has not been handled, and 
since the multitude shrink back from it, was desirous to set 
forth my chain-of-reasoning to thee, O Memmiiis, in sweetly- 
speaking Pierian verse, and, as it were, to tinge it with the 
honey of the Muses; if percluuice, by such a method, I might 
detain thy attention upon my strains, until thou gainest a 
knowledge of the whole natuke of things, and perceivest 
the utility of that knoivledge. 

But since I have demonstrated- of what nature the primor- 

' I range over the trackless regions, Ac.] V'er. 1. Avia Pieridum 
perarjro loca, &c. The first twenty-five verses of tliis book are taken 
from book i. 925. At the end of the ])aragraph. ver. 25, I liave given 
" utiHty of that knowledge," with Creech, who has " istiusque cogni- 
tionis utiHtateni." 

- But since I have demonstrated, &c.] Ver. 2ii. Having in the 
preceding books discoursed of atoms, the generation of things from 
them, and the nature of the soul, he now proceeds to treat of reru?n 
sinmlaeru, the images of things, which tlie Epicm-eans supposed to 
be per])etually flying off from the surfaces of bodies. If these 
images presented tliemsclves to us entire and undistorted, we beheld 
true representations of the objects from wliicli tliey came; if tliey 
were broken, or inverted, or mixed one with another, we then saw 
mcnsters, such as Centaurs or Chiniieras. See ver. 736, seq. of this 

B. IT. 27—50. LUCRETIUS. 147 

dial-atoms of all things (vre, and with how diifferent figures 
distinguished they fly spontaneously' through space, actuated 
by motion from all eternity, and in what maimer all things may 
severally be produced from them ; and since I liave shown 
•what is the nature of the soul, and from what substances it 
derives its vigour in-its-connexion with the body, and in 
what w^ay, being separated from it, it returns to its original 
elements, I shall now begin to treat of another subject, which 
is of the greatest concern to these inquiries, namely, that there 
exist those shapes which we call images of things ; shapes 
which, being separated, like membranes, from the surface of 
the bodies of objects, flit hither and thither through the air ; 
and lohich same shapes, not only occurring to us when awake, 
startle our minds, but also alarm us in sleep, when we often 
seem to behold strange forms and spectres of the dead, that 
frequently, when we are torpid in slumber, rouse us with 
horror: / sai/ that these are images thrown off the bodies of 
objects, that we may not, by any possibility, suppose that souls 
escape from Acheron, or that shades of the dead hover about 
among the living, or that any portion of us can be left after 
death, when, after the body, and substance of the soul, have 
been disunited, they have suffered dissolution into their re- 
spective elements. 

I affirm, then, that thin shapes and figures of objects are 
detached from those objects ; from the surface, / mean, of 
their bodies ; shapes which are to be designated, as it were, 
their pellicle or bark, because each image bears the likeness 
and form of that object, whatsoever it be, from whose surface 
it is detached and seems to wander^ through the air. 

book. As to the spectres of the dead, EpiciiriT! and Lucretius 
supposed tliem to be pellicles thrown off from corpses, which were 
so thin as to pass through coffins and all other obstructions, and 
which, thou<Th we might not notice them amidst business and bus-tie, 
we became liable to ])erceive in solitude and retirement. It was 
such a spectre that Brutus saw before the battle of Pharsalia. 
Dreams were produced, they thought, by means of tliese subtle 
ima<ies penetrating to the body during sleep, and coming in contact 
with the soul through the surface of the body. See ver. 728, seq. 
See Diog. Laert. x. 46 ; Cic. de Fin. i. 7 ; Macrob. Sat. vii. 14. AuL 
Gell. V. 16. In ver. 30 — 32, I have rendered esset, vigeret, rediret, as 
present tenses. — Lucretius had given notice that he should enter on 
this subject, in book i. 133. 

' Fly spontaneovisly, S^c.] Ver. 28. See iii. 33. 

* Seems to wander.] \'er. 50. Clnet — vagari. Fertur Jicitur. 

L 2 

148 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 51—77. 

T\n^ fact any one, with however dull an intellect, may un- 
derstand from what follows. In the first place, since many 
bodies, among objects manifest before our eyes, send off, when 
disunited, various particles/ro?/i their substance, partly diffused 
and subtle, as wood discharges smoke and fire heat, and partly 
more close and condensed, as whenever grasshoppers in sum- 
mer lay aside their thin coats, and when calves, at their birth, 
cast the membrane' from the surface of tlieir bodies, and, like- 
wise, when the slippery snake puts off his garment among the 
thorns, (for we frequently see the briers gifted with their 
spoils) : since these things, I say, take place, a thin image may 
naturally be detached^ from bodies; that is to say, from the 
extreme surface of bodies. For why those substances which 
are more dense, should more readily fall away and recede from 
bodies, than these shapes which are light and subtle, it is 
quite impossible to tell ; especially when there are number- 
less minute particles on the surface of objects, which may be 
thrown off in the order in which they have lain, and keep the 
outline of their figure ; and this so much tlie more easily, as, 
being comparatively few, and placed on tlie outmost super- 
ficies, they are less liable to be obstructed. 

For, assuredly, we not only see many particles discharge 
themselves, and become detached, as we said before, from the 
middle and inward parts of bodies,^ but we observe also colour 
itself frequently Jly off from their surfaces ; and this effect 
yellow, red, and purple curtains * publicly exhibit, when, 
stretched across the vast theatres, displayed over the poles and 
beams, they fluctuate with a tremulous motion ; for they then 
tinge tiie assembl}' on the benches, and the whole face of the 
scene beneath, the persons of senators, matrons, and gods, and 

* Calves, at their birth, cast the membrane, S^c."] Ver. 57. " The 
alantois, formed for the purpose of containing the urine of the foetus 
prior to its birth." Good. 

2 May naturally be detached.] "Ver. 61. Bchet mitti. Comp. v. 83. 
' From the middle and inward p«r^s o/ fioc^i'es.] Ver. 71- Ex alto 
pei}ittfsque. Literally, /row the depth and (from J within. 

* Yellow, red, and ])urple curtains.] Ver. 73, seq. Lntea, russa, 
et ferrugina. " Displayed over the poles and beams," rermalosvuU 
gata trahcxque. Mains here sisjnifies a pole for sufiporting a curtain : 

a-i in Liv. xxxix. 7, Ludis Konianis mains in circo instabilis in 

lignum Pollentije procidit. The Epicureans thouglit that the colour 
actually passed off in thin pellicles from the curtains. — " May na- 
turally send off," (ver. 83,) debent mittere : see ver. 61. 

B. IV. 78-106. LUCRETIUS. 149 

vary them with their own colour ; and the more the walls of 
tiie theatre are shut in around, so much the more all these 
objects within, suffused with the hue of the curtains, (the light 
of day being affected with it,) smile and look gay. When the 
curtains, therefore, send off colour from their surface, all other 
objects may naturally send off subtle images ; for it is from 
the superficies that both emit. There are therefore, we must 
believe, certain outlines of figures, which, formed of a subtle 
texture, fly abroad, and which nevertheless cannot, at the time 
that they are separated y'ro/w bodies, be individually discerned 
by the eye. 

Besides, if all odour, smoke, vapour, and other similar sub- 
stances, fly off fi'om bodies in a scattered manner, it is because, 
while rising from within, they are, as they issue forth, broken 
by winding passages ; nor are there any direct openings of 
the orifices, by which they strive, as they spring up, to fly 
out.' But, on the other hand, when a thin coat of colour 
from the surface is thrown off, there is nothing that can scat- 
ter it, since, being placed on the very superficies, it lies in 
readiness to fall off unbroken. 

Moreover, whatever images appear to us in mirrors, in the 
water, and in any bright object, their substance, since they 
are distinguished by a form similar to their olijects, must ne- 
cessarily consist'-^ in forms thrown off from those objects. For 
why those grosser consistences, as smoke and vapour, which 
many bodies obviously send forth from their substance, should 
more readily detacli themselves, and recede from objects, than 
those which are thin and subtle, there is no possibility of tell- 
ing. There are, therefore, we may believe, thin images of 
the forms of bodies, and unlike those of a grosser nature, which, 
though no one can see them severally thrown off, yet, being 
thrown off, and repelled by successive and frequent reflec- 
tions'* from the flat surface of mirrors, strike the eye, and pro- 

' By which they strive to Hy out.] Ver. 92. QiiA contendunt 

exire coot-tee. In Forbiger qua: is misprinted for qua. 

* Their substance — must necessarily consist.] Ver. 99. Esseeorum, 
Esse is put substantively for obaia, or essence. 

* Repelled by successive and frequent reflections.] Ver. 105. 

Assiduo crebroque repulsu 
Rejectse, reddunt speculorum ex aequoie visum. 

** The representation of himself, which a man sees in a glass, is not, 

150 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 107—125. 

(luce sijjlit. Kor can shapes of bodies be imagined, by any 
other nutans, to be so accurately preserved, as that forms cor- 
responding to each should be represented to us. 

Give me now your attention further, and learn of how 
sul)tle a nature or substance an image consists. You may 
imagine this subtlety, in the first place, inasmuch as the pri- 
mordial-atoms of things are so far below our senses, and so ex- 
ceedingly less than those smallest objects which our eyes first 
begin to be unable to distinguish.' But that I may make 
plain to you how exquisitely diminutive the primary-particles 
of all bodies are, listen to ivhat I shall state in these few ob- 

First, there are some animals so exceedingly minute, that 
the third part of them can by no possibility be seen.^ Of 
what size can any internal part of these creatures be imagined 
to be ? What is the globule of their heart, or of their eye ? 
Wliat are their members and joints ? How extremely dimi- 
nutive must they be ! What, moreover, is the size of the 
several atoms of which their vital-principle, and the sub- 
stance of their soul, must necessarily consist ? Do you not 
conceive how subtle and minute they must be? 

Contemplate, besides, whatever bodies exhale from their 
substance a powerful odour, as panacea, bitter wormwood, 
strong-smelling southernwood, and pungent centaury, any one 
of which if you shall happen to shake gently, and imagine 
how small must be the atoms that affect your nostrils, you may 

in the opinion of Epicurus, one, but many; produced by a quick 
succession of images passing off from the body, and striking against 
the glass, whence they are reflected to tlie eye ; the rapidity of the 
process making the many appear as one." Lamhinm. This will be 
seen more clearly as the reader proceeds. E])icurus's doctrine of 
images is one of the weakest points in his philosophy. 

' Our eyes first begin to be uiialile to distinguish.] V^er. 112. 
QucB primum ociili cccptant non posse tucri. He means the extreme 
points, summa cacumina, of small objects, which our sight cannot 
command. See i. 593. — "Make plain to you," (ver. 113,) con- 
formem; a word of Wakefield's selection, from two or three manu- 
scripts, for cottjirmem, the reading of Lambinus. Wakefield inter- 
prets it, to make manifest, as if by forms. 

^ That the third part of them can by no possibility be seen.] 
V'er. 116. Ut Iiorum Tcrtia pars nuUn possit ratione videri. "That 
is, any considerable part, as in Rev. viii. 7, The third part of the 
trees, the sea, &c." Preigcrus. 

B. IV. 126—148. LUCRETIUS. 151 

then the better understand that numerous images of bodies, 
composed of still smaller atoms, may flit about in various ways, 
without force oi- weight, and without impression on the senses.^ 
[Of which bodies liow fine a part the image is, there is no 
one can express, or give the due estimation of it in words.] 

But lest perchance you shoald thinly, that those images of 
objects alone wander abroad, which fly oif from the objects 
themselves, there are others, also, which are produced spon- 
taneously, and are combined of themselves in this sky which 
is called the air ; those imacjes, 7iamehj, which, fashioned in 
various shapes, are borne along on high, and, being soft in 
their contexture, never cease to change their figure, and to 
metamorphose themselves into the outlines of forms of every 
sort. This we sometimes see the clouds do, when ive observe 
them thicken on high, and dim the serene face of the firma- 
ment, yet soothing the air, as it were, with their motion ; ^ as, 
frequently, the faces of giants seem to fly over the heaven, 
and to spread their shadows far and wide ; sometimes huge 
mountains, and rocks apparentli/ torn from those mountains, 
seem noiv to go before the sun, noiv to follow close behind 
him; then some monster seems to drag forward, and to ob- 
trude, other stormy clouds. 

Understand, now, with how easy and expeditious a process 
these images are formed, and perpetually flow off", and pass 
away from objects. For there is always on the surface of 
bodies something redundant, Avhich they may throw oflT; and 
this redundancy, or outside form, when it comes in contact 
with certain objects, as, for example, a thin garment,^ passes 

' Without force — and without impression on the senses.] Ver. 
127. Nulla vi, cassaque sensu. " Whicli move with so small a force 
that they cannot affect the organs or senses." Creech. Between 
ver. 125 (ending with ciebis, which is Lamhinus's conjecture for 
duobus) and ver. 126, Lachmann very reasonably considers that 
there is a hiatus. The passage in crotchets is thought spurious by 

* Soothing the air — with their motion.] Ver. 139. Aera nmlcentes 
motu. " By the variety of their shapes exhilarating the air, as it were, 
and diffusing over it a certain pleasantness." Wakefield. The reader 
will remember the passage in Hamlet, " Very like a wliale," &c. 

^ As, for example, a thin garment.] Ver. 148. Ut in primis vestem,. 
"As i]Si], avTiKa, jam, i^c. This is worthy of notice, for it means 
exempli gratia." Faber. A little below (ver. 152) in primis oc- 
curs again ; where, however, 1 have taken it, with Creech, in the 
eense of prcecipui. 

152 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 119—180. 

through it ; but, when it strikes against rough rocks, or the 
substance of wood, is at once broken into fragments, so that 
it can present no image. But when objects which are bright 
and dense have stood in its way, as, above all, a looking-glass, 
neither of tliese effects happens ; for neither can images pas3 
through it like a garment, nor be divided into parts before the 
smooth surface has succeeded in securing its entireness.^ From 
this cause it happens that images abound among us ; and, 
however suddenly, at any time whatsoever, you may place a 
mirror opposite aii object, the image of it appears ; so that you 
may conclude that filmy textures of objects, and subtle shapes, 
are perpetually flying off" from the superficies of every body. 
Many images are therefore carried off in a short space, so that 
the production of these forms must naturally be thought rapid. ^ 
And as the sun must send forth many rays in a short time, 
that all places may be constantly full of light, so, by a like 
process, many different images of bodies must necessarily be 
carried oft' from those bodies in a moment of time in all direc- 
tions round about ; since, whatsoever way we turn the mirror 
to the figures of objects, the objects are represented in it of a 
correspondent form and colour. 

Besides, at times Avhen the state of the sky has just before 
been clear as possible, it becomes, with extreme suddenness, so 
frightfully overclouded on all sides, that you might think that 
all the darkness had left Acheron, and filled the immense vault 
of heaven ; ?>o formidably, when siich a gloomy night of clouds 
has arisen, does the face of black terror hang over the earth 
from above. Of which clouds, thin as they are, how thin a 
portion their image must be, as viewed in a reflecting surface, 
there is no man that can express, or give in words such an 
estimation as tvould be conceivable. 

And now attend further, and with how swift a motion 
images are borne along, and wiiat activity is given to them as 
they swim across the air, so that, to whatever part they move, 
each with its several tendency, a short time only is spent in a 

' Has succeeded in securing its entireness.] Ver. 154. Meminit 
IcBvor pra;stare salutem. More literally, has remembered to secure its 
safety. As to prcrstare,com^. iii. 215, 221. 

^ So that the production of these forms must naturally be thought 
rapid.] V'cr. Kil. I't merlto celer liis rebus dicatiir ortgo. " May justly 
be called rapid." This, like the lines on the activity of thought, (iii. 
183,) seems very tame. 

B. IV. 181—202. LUCRETIUS. 153 

long distance, I will proceed to explain, though rather, if pos- 
sible, in agreeably-sounding verses than in many ; ' as the short 
melody of the swan is better than the croak of cranes swept- 
afar among the ethereal clouds driven by the south-wind. 

In the first place, we have constant means of observing 
hoiv swift in their motion those bodies which are light, and 
which consist of minute particles, are. Of which kind is the 
sun's light, and his heat ; for this reason, that they are com- 
posed of minute primary-atoms, which are, as it were, struck 
out, and make nc difficulty to pass through the interval of 
air, driven on by a succeeding stroke ; for the place of light 
passing on is instantly supplied by other light, and brightness 
is, as it were, propelled by successive brightness.^ Wherefore 
images must, in like manner, be able to pass through an inex- 
pressible space in a moment of time ; in the first place, because 
there is always some slight impulse^ at a distance behind them, 
which may carry them forward and urge them on ; and se- 
condly, because they are sent forth formed with so subtle a 
texture, that they can easily penetrate any substances w^hat- 
soever, and, as it were, flow through the intervening-body 
of air. 

Besides, if those atoms of bodies which are sent forth from 
within,'* and from the central portion of them, as the light and 
heat of the sun, are seen, gliding over the whole space of the 

' In agreeably-sounding verses than in many.] Ver. ISl. Sziavi- 
dicis potius qvani miiltis. "Having regard to the nature of the sub- 
ject," says Wakefield, "which has been so treated in prose as to 
offend and weary the reader." The croak of cranes among the clouds 
seems to have been a proverbial expression : see Lambinus, who 
quotes a Greek epigram of Antipater Sidonius in Erinnam, containing 
a similar observation on the chattering of daw's. The lines occur 
again, ver. 910, seq. 

- Successive brightness.] \'^er. 191. Protehftilgrtre. " Protelum " 
is here used as an adjective; in the only other place where Lucre- 
tius has it, (ii. 532,) it is a substantive. It is of uncertain deriva- 
tion ; Vossius makes it from pro and telum, indicating a succession 
like that of a number of darts thrown forward one after another. 

' Some slight impulse, Ac-] Ver. 194. Parvola causa Est procul a 
tergo. Creech interprets causa by suddens vis, but woidd have par- 
vola in the ace. case, agreeing with sinndacra understood. In this 
notion I do not think him right. Faber would read phirima causa. 
What cause or force impels images, or how it is produced, Lucretius 
does not explain. 

< forth from within.] Ver. 200. Penitus — ex ak-o. Comp. ver. 71. 

154 LUCRETIUS. K. IV. 203-227 

air, to diffuse tlieraselves abroad in a moment of time, and to 
fly tlirough sea and land, and to flood tlie heaven wliieh is 
above, where they are borne along witli such rapid lightness, 
what sludJ 7ce sni/ of those particles, then, which He ready on 
the outmost -urt'ace of" bodies ? Do you «o< conceive how much 
quicker and farther they ought to go, when they are once 
thrown off", and ivhen nothing delays their progress ? And do 
you not I'eel certain that they should fly over a much greater 
distance of space in the same time in which the light of the 
sun traverses the heaven ? 

This also seems to be an eminently fitting example to show 
with how swift a motion the images of things are borne along, 
namely, that as soon as a bright-surface of water is placed 
in the open air, wlien the clear heaven is shining with stars, 
the radiant constellations of the sky immediately cori'espond 
in the water. Do you now understand, then, in Avhat a 
moment of time this image descends from the regions of the 
air to the regions of the earth? From Avhich cause, hotcever 
wonderful,' you must necessarily admit, again and again, the 
existence 0/ bodies which strike the eyes and excite our vision, 
and flow with a perpetual issue from certain substances ; as 
cold from rivers, heat from the sun, spray from the waves of 
the sea, lohich is the consumer of walls round the shore ; nor 
do various voices cease to fly through the air ;^ moreover the 
moisture, so to speak, of a salt taste, comes often into the 
mouth, when we are walking near the sea ; and, again, when 
we look at diluted wormwood being mixed, a bitterness af- 
fects our palate. So evidently a certain substance is borne 
rapidly away from all bodies, and is dispersed in all directions 

' From which cause, Jtowever wonderful, <5re.] Vcr. 217. 
QuH re ctiam atque etiam niirft fateare necesse est 
Corpora, quae feriant oculos visumque lacessant, 
Perpetuoque fluant certis ab rebus obortu — 

This is Wakefield's reading, which Forbiger retains. Za w6t«?M and 
Creech, instead of mim, liavc mifti ; which verb, or one similar, is 
sadly wanted. But Wakefield had the hardihood to >ay that it 
might well be dispensed with, and that we may say fateri corpora as 
fateri peccata ! 

- Voices cease to fly through the air.] \'er. 222. Nee variee cessant 
voces voliiare per auras. Faber observes that this is said in reference 
to the cases of those wlio have thought they heard words spoken 
when nobody was near them. 

B. :v. 228— 255. LUCRETIUS. 155 

around ; nor is there any delay or interruption allowed to 
the efflux ; since we perpetually perceive it with our senses, 
and may see all objects at all times, and smell them, and hear 
them sound. 

Further, since any figure felt with the hands in the dark is 
known to be the same which is seen by day and in clear light, 
it necessarily follows that touch and sight are excited by a 
like cause. If, therefore, we handle a square object, and that 
object affects us as a square in the dark, what object, in the 
light, will be able to answer to the shape of it, except its 
quadrangular image? For which reason the faculty of dis- 
cerning forms is found to depend upon images, and it seems 
that no object can be distinguished by the eye without them. 

Now those images of objects, of which I am speaking, are 
carried in every direction, and are thrown off so as to be dis- 
tributed on all sides ; but, because we can see only with our 
eyes, it therefore happens, that whatsoever way we turn our 
sight, all objects on that quarter strike on it with their shape 
and colour. And the image causes us to see, and gives-us- 
means to distinguish, how far each object is distant from us. 
For when it is sent forth yro»^ the object, it immediately strikes 
and drives forward that j)ortion of air, which is situated be- 
tween itself and our eyes ; and the whole of that air thus 
glides through our eyes,' and, as it were, brushes the pupils 
gently, and so passes on. Hence it comes to pass that we see 
how far distant each object is ; and the more air is driven before 
the image, and the longer the stream of it that brushes through 
our eyes, the farther each object seems to be removed /ro^w us. 
These effects, you may be sure, are produced with an ex- 

* The whole of that air thus glides through our eyes. J Ver. 249. 

Isque ita per nostras acies, perlabitur omnis, 
Et quasi pertergit pupillas, atque ita transit. 

" Per oculos nostros perlabitur." Creech. " Permanat per nostras 
pupillas oculorum." Ed. Delph. " Se faisant passage le long des 
prunelles." Coiititres. This is very well, but what shall we maKe of 
atque ita transit? If it enters the pupils of the eyes, to what part does 
it pass off? Good makes it very conveniently, " Strikes on the sen- 
tient pupil, and retires." But this was suggested, I suppose, by 
Wakefield's note, who, fijiding a difficulty, proposed to read sttb in- 
stead o{per. This notion about the stream of air making known the 
distance, is repeated in ver. 280, seq. 

lo6 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 256—284. 

quisitely rapid process, so that we see what the object is, and, 
at the same time, how far it is distant. 

In these matters it is by no means to be accounted wonderful, 
why, when those images which strike the eyes cannot bs 
severally discerned, the objects themselves, from which they 
proceed, are perceived. For, in like manner, when the wind 
Strikes upon us by degrees, and when sharp cold spreads over 
ns, we are not wont to perceive each first and successive par- 
ticle of that wind and cold, but rather the whole together ; 
and we then perceive, as it were, blows inflicted upon our 
body, as if some substance were striking us, and producing in 
our frame a sense of its force which is without tis. Besides, 
when we strike a stone with our finger, we touch the very ex- 
treme superficies of the stone, and the outside colour ; and 7/et 
we do not feel that colour with our touch, but rather perceive 
the hardness of the stone deeply seated within its substance. 

And now learn in addition to this, why the image of an 
object in a mirror is seen beyond the mirror ; for certainly it 
seems extremely remote from us. The case is the same as 
with those objects which are plainly seen out of doors, when a 
door, standing open, affords an unobstructed prospect through 
it, and allows many objects out of the house to be contem- 
plated. For this view, also, as icell as that in the mirror, 
takes place, if I may so express it, with a double and twofold 
tide of air. For first is perceived the air on this side of the 
door-posts ; then follow the door-posts themselves on the 
right hand and on the left ; next the external light strikes 
the eyes, and the second portion ofa\r, and all those objects 
which are clearly seen abroad. So, when the image from the 
glass has first thrown itself forward, and whilst it is coming 
to our sight, it strikes and drives forward the air which is 
situate between itself and the eyes, and causes us to per- 
ceive all this air before toe see the mirror ; but when we 
have looked on the mirror itself, ' the image which is thrown 

' But when we have looked on the mirror itself, S^c.'] Ver. 284. 
-Sed, ubi in speculum qnoque sensimus ipsum, 

Continue a nobis in eum, quae fertur, imago 

Thus stands the passage in Wakefield and Forbiger. Wakefield 
would join i7isensimus, and this is perhaps the best thing that can be 
done. As for the eum in the next line, he makes it agree with ae'ra. 

B. IV. 285— 306. LUCRETIUS. 157 

off from us, reaches it, and, being reflected, returns to our 
eyes, and so, propelling another portion of air before it, rolls 
it on, and causes us to perceive this air before we see itself; 
and on that account seems to be distant, and to be so much 
removed from or behind the mirror. For which reason, again 
and again I say, it is by no means right for those who study 
these matters, to wonder at the effects which attribute vision 
from the surface of mirrors to the influence of two portions of 
air ; since the appearance is produced by means of both. 

Now that which is in reality the right side ' of our bodies, is 
made to appear on the left side in mirrors, for this reason, 
that when the image, which proceeds from our person, strikes 
upon the plane of the mirror, it is not reflected without a 
change, but, being turned back, it is so struck out of its former 
state, as would be the case loith a mask of plaster, if, before it 
wei'e dry, any one should dash its face against a pillar or a 
beam ; when, if it should preserve, at that instant, its true 
figure as in front, or as tvhen its front was presented to you, 
and should exhibit itself, or its exact features, driven back 
through the hinder part of the head, it will happen that the 
eye which before was the right, is now become the left, and 
that which was on the left, correspondently, is made the 

It is contrived, also, that an image may be transmitted from 
mirror to mirror ; so that five, and even six images, have been 
often produced. For whatsoever object in a house shall be 
hid, as lying back in the interior part of it, it will yet be pos- 
sible that every such object, however removed out of sight by 
crooked turnings and recesses, may, (being drawn out, by 

First comes to us the imago speculi, propelling a certain portion of 
air; then comes our own image from the speculum, striking upon 
that same air. But Lachmann judiciously changes in eimi into ite- 
ram, and omits the in in the preceding verse. At the end of the para- 
graph "by means of both" answers to utraque, which Wakefield, from 
Non. Marc. ii. 882, says is for utrinque or utroque; other editions 
have utroque. It is well for us, as Wakefield observes, that we are 
only the interpreters of Lucretius's language, and not the patrons 
of his philosophy. 

' Now that which is in reality the right side, ^c.] Ver. 293. The 
reader of this paragraph in Forbiger, will observe that Iceva, ver. 
294, is for in Iceva ; other editions have in. — Recta, ver. 296, is the 
participle oirego. — Octilos, ver. 301, is for oculus. 

158 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 307-3'2-t. 

means of several glapse.s, through the ■winding passages,) be 
seen to be in the building. So exactly is an image reflected 
from glass to glass ; and, when it has been presented to us on- 
the-let't-liaud, it happens afterwards that it is produced on-the- 
right ; and tiience it returns again, and clianges to the same 
position as before. 

Moreover, whatever small sides or plates there are of glasses, 
formed with a round flexure similar to that of our ov\'n side, 
they, on tliat account, reflect to us images in the right posi- 
tion;^ either because the image is ti-ansferred from glass to 
glass, and thence, being twice reflected, flies forward to us ; 
or, again, because the image, when it comes forth, is turned 
about, inasmuch as the curved shape of the glass causes it to 
wheel itself round to us. 

Further, you would suppose that our images in a mirror 
advance together with us, and place their foot with ours, and 
imitate our gesture ; ichich appearance happens from this cause, 
that from whatever part of the mirror you recede, the images, 
after that moment, cannot be reflected from that part, since 
nature obliges all images to be reflected from mirrors, (as well 
as to fly off from objects,) according to the corresponding ges- 
tures of the person whom they representr 

' They, on that account, reflect to ns iinage.s in the rij^lit position.] 
Ver. 314. Dcxtera ed propter nobis simulacra remittunt. I have trans- 
lated dextera according to the notion of Lambinus : qnonou dextrcc 
partes nostris dextris respondent. But what sort of glasses are intend- 
ed, or in what position we nuist conceive tliem placed, is very far 
from clear. I was inclined at one time to think that the colionnar- 
concave mirror was meant, so that de specido in speculum, ver. 315, 
might signify from side to side of the glass ; and there is notlrng in 
the text to contradict this supposition, imless it be said that de spe- 
cido hi speculum will not bear this signification; but this I may be 
allowed to doubt. Lambinus, however, explains it, teres speculijigura 
instar columnce^ evidently thinking the shape convex. Other com- 
mentators say nothing to tlie pur))ose. The notion of concavity 
seems rather to be favoured by ver. 318. Flcxa Jiciura docet speculi 
covvortier ad nos : sc. imaginem. And Gassendi, De Phgsiohgia Epicuri, 
vol. ii. p. 2()0, tliinks that concave nurrors were meant. 

- According to tlie corresponding gestures oj the person whom they 
represent. '\ Ver. Zl^. Ad aquos reddita Jlexus. Creech foolishly in- 
terprets ad (pquos Jlexu,s by "ad tequales angulos." Lucretius had no 
thought of equal angles. Good riglitly understands the passage to 
signify that tlie reflected image "must bear each variance of the 
])arent form ; " and Coutures, that the rellexion must be made " per 
i'egale opposition des surfaces." 

B. IV. 325— 35-t. LUCRETIUS. 159 

Bright objects, also, the eyes avoid, and shrink from behold- 
ing. The sun even blinds you, if you persist to direct your 
eyes against it; inasmuch as the power of it is great; and 
images from it are borne down impetuously from on high 
through the clear air, and strike the eyes forcibly, disturbing 
and cansing pain in their sockets.' Moreover, whatever splen- 
dour is strong, often burns the eyes, because it contains many 
seeds of iire, which produce pain in the organs-of-sight by 
penetrating into them. 

Besides, Avhatever objects jaundiced persons^ look upon, be- 
come in their sight yellow like themselves ; because many 
atoms of yellow colour flow ofi:' fi'om their bodies, meeting and 
tinging the images of objects ; and many of the same atoms 
are moreover mixed in their eyes, which, by their contagion, 
paint all things with lurid hues. 

But ivheii we are in the dark, we see, from the darkness, 
objects tliat are in the light, because when the black air of the 
darkness, being nearer to us, has entered the open eyes first, 
and taken possession of them, the bright white air immediately 
follows, which, as it were, clears them, and dispels the black 
shades of the otlier air ; for this lucid air is by many degrees 
more active, and far more subtle and powerful: which, as soon 
as it has filled with light, and laid open, the passages of the 
eyes, which the dark air had previously stopped, plain images 
of objects immediately follow and strike t(po7i the eyes, so that 
we see those objects which are situated in the light. This, on 
the other hand, we cannot do, ti-hen we look from the light to- 
wards objects in the dark, because the thicker air of dai'kness 
follows behind the light air; which thicker air fills the pores, 
and stops up the passages of sight, so that the images of any 
things whatsoever, being involved in it, cannot be moved 
forward into the eyes? 

And when we behold the square towers of a city a long 

' Their sockets.] Ver. 329. Compos ituras. '' Tag apfioyuQ." Lam- 
biniis. The settinijs of the eyes, 

^ Besides, whatever objects jaundiced persons, &;c.'] Ver. 334. 
Qiuecunque tuentur Arqiuiti. " The explanation is extremely apposite, 
and, upon the Epicurean system of etfluvia, highly ingenious." 

■' Images — cannot be mo\ e A. fo-noard into the eyes.'] Ver. 353. 
Ne shmdac7-a Possint ullariun rentm contecta moveri. My translation is 
based upon Wakefield's interpretation. 

160 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 355—383 

way off, it happens, on account of ike distance, that they often 
seem round, because every angle, being afar off, is seen as ob- 
tuse, or ratlier is not seen at all; the impulse of its image dies 
away, and the force of it does not reach to our eyes ; since, 
while the images of it are borne through a large body of air, 
the air, by frequent percussions vpon them, obliges thai force 
to become-inetfective. Hence it conies to pass, that when every 
angle has escaped our vision at the same time, the constructed 
stones are seen as \i fashioned to around ;' not, however, like 
round objects which are immediately before us, and which are 
exactly circular, but they appear, as it were, nearly, after a 
shadowy fashion, resembling them. 

Our shadow likewise seems to us to move in the sun, and to 
follow our footsteps, and to imitate our gesture ; (if you can 
fancy air, devoid of light, to go forwards, following the move- 
ments and gesture of mens for that which we are accustomed to 
call shadow can be nothing else but air deprived of light ;) evi- 
dently because the gi-ound, in certain spots successively, is 
excluded from tlie radiance, wherever we, as we go, obstruct 
it ; and tliat part of it, which we have left, is again covered 
with light. From this cause it happens, that what was the 
shadow of our body, seems to be still the same, and to have 
followed exactly-opposite us. For fresh illuminations of rays 
are perpetually pouring themselves forth ; and the first dis- 
appear as quickh/ as wool vanishes, if applied to a flame.- By 
this means the ground is both easily deprived of light, and again 
covered with it, and discharges from itself the black shadows. 

Nor yet in this case do we allow that the eyes are at all de- 
ceived ; for it is their business onhj to observe in whatever 
place there may be light or shade ; but whether the light is 
the same or not, and whether the same shadow, which was 

' As if/rts/u"o«ef?to aroimd.] Ver. 362. Quasi ut ad tornum. Tormis 
is generally considered to mean a turner's wheel, or lathe, or turning 
iron, but seems here to signify the figure formed by such instriv- 
ment. Lanibinus reads quasi tornata ut — , and considers that ad tor- 
num came into tlie text from a gloss. 

- As wool vanishes, if applied to a fiame.] Ver. 377- Quasi in ignem 
h,na trahatur. " Notliiiig could be imagined more applicable and ex- 
Iiressive than tliis simile ; for what is consumed quicker than the fine 
filaments of wool, when they are set on fire I " ]\'akejxeld. Good re- 
fers to Isaiah, xlii. 17, "Tiiey are consumed as tow; " and to Cow- 
per's Task, ii. 9, " As the fiax That falls asunder at the touch of fire.* 

B. IV. 384— 419. LUCRETIUS. 161 

here, passes thither, or rather, as we said before, a new ojie 
is constantly produced, — this the judgment of the mind only 
must determine ; for the eyes cannot know the nature of 
things; and therefore you must not impute to the eyes that 
which may be tlie fault of the understanding. 

A ship, in wliich we sail, is carried forward, when it seems 
to stand still ; and that which remains stationary, is imagined 
to go by us ; and the hills and plains, past which we row our 
vessel, or fly with sails, seem to flee away astern. 

All the stars seem to be at rest, as being fixed to the vaults 
of the sky ; and yet all are in perpetual motion ; for when, 
after rising, they have traversed the heaven with their shining 
orbs, they return to their distant places-of-setting. And the 
sun and the moon, in like manner, seem to remain stationary ; 
bodies which observation itself shows to be carried forwards. 

And mountains rising up, at a distance, from the middle 
of the sea, between which a free passage for ships is open, 
yet appear without separation^ so that one vast island seems to 
be formed from the tv/o united. 

It likewise happens that to children, after ceasing to whirl 
themselves about, the rooms seem to turn, and the pillars to 
run round, so that they can hardly believe that the whole 
building is not threatening to fall upon them. 

And when nature begins to raise on high the beams of tlie 
sun, red with tremulous fires, and to exalt them above the 
hills, the hills over which the sun then appears to be, himself 
apparently touching them close, (glowing with his own beams,) 
are scarcely distant from us two thousand flights of an arrow, 
often even scarcely five hundred casts of a dart ; yet between 
them and the sun, xohich seems in contact with them, lie broad 
expanses of sea, stretched out under vast regions of sky ; and 
many thousand miles of land also intervene, which various 
nations of men, and tribes of wild beasts, occupy and overrun. 
And, to mention another ocidar delusion, a puddle of water, 
not deeper than a finger, which settles among the stones in 
the paved streets, affords, apparently, a prospect downwai'ds 
under the earth, to a depth as great' as the height to which 
the lofty arch of heaven extends above the earth ; so that you 
seem to look down upon the clouds and to see a heaven ie- 

' To a depth as great.] V'er. 417. Impete tanto. " Jd est tauta at- 
titudine." Lambinus. 


162 LL'CIIETIUS. B. IV. 420—447. 

neath, and to behold, by a surprising effect, the celestial bodies 
buried in the sky under ground. 

Moreover, when a spirited courser sticks fast with us in the 
middle of a river, and we look down into the swiftly-flowing 
water of the stream, a force seems to be carrying the body of 
the horse, though standing still, in a contrary direction to the 
current, and to drive it rapidly up the river; and, whitherso- 
ever we turn our eyes, all objects appear to us to be carried 
along, and to flow, in a similar manner. 

A portico, too, although it be of equal dimensions through- 
out, and standing supported with equal columns from-end-to- 
end, yet, when it is viewed from the extremity through its 
whole length, contracts gradually, as it were, to the apex of a 
tapering cone, joining the roof to the floor, and all the right- 
hand parts to the left, until it has narrowed-itself to the in- 
distinct point of the cone. 

To sailors at sea it occurs that the sun, having risen from 
the waves, seems also to set, and bury its light, in the waves ; 
as, in their situation, they behold nothing else but water and 
sky ; a remark which I make, that you may not lightly sup- 
pose that the senses are altogether deceived. 

But to those ignorant of the sea,- ships in the harbour often 
appear to strive, disabled in their equipments, against the 
broken waves ; for though whatever part of the oars is raised 
above the water of the sea, is straight, and the part o/'the helm 
above the water is straight, the parts which go down, and are 
sunk in the water, seem all, as if broken, to be turned and in- 
verted, sloping upwards, and, thus bent back, to float almost 
up to the surface of the water. 

And when the winds, in the night time, carry light vapours 
athwart the sky, the bright constellations seem then to glide 
against the clouds, and to pass along on high in a far different 
direction than that in which they are really borne.^ 

' Altogether deceived.] Ver. 436. Lahefactari undique. 
^ But to those ignorant of fcJie sea, &c.] Ver. 437. 
At maris ignaris in porta clauda videntur 
Navigia aplustris, fractas obiiitier undas. 
" Aplttstria are ornaments of ships ; but tlie word, in this passage, 
signifies all parts of the vessel that rise above tlie water, as is shown 
by what follows." Creech. See ii. 555. The lines are not very satisfac- 
tory. Lanibiniis reads aphistris fractis, which makes becter sense. 
^ Really borne.] Ver. 447. JRationefcruntur. 'AX;;^(Iif , bjTa>f . Faber 

fi. IV. 448—474. LUCRETIUS. 163 

But if by cliance the hand, applied to one eye, presses it 
underneath, it happens, by some impression on the sense, tha 
all things, at which we look, seem to become double as we 
gaze on them ; two lights in the lamps appear blossoming with 
flames ; the twin furniture seems to be doubled throughout the 
house ; and the faces of the people seem double, and their 
persons double. 

Moreover, when sleep has bound our limbs in agreeable re- 
pose, and the whole body lies in profound rest ; yet, at that 
very time, our limbs appear to be awake and to move them- 
selves, and we imagine that, in the thick darkness of night, 
we see the sun, and the light of day ; and, though in a con- 
fined place, we seem to change our position ivith respect to the 
heaven, the sea, rivers, a«t? mountains, and to cross over plains 
on foot, and to hear sounds, though the unbroken silence of 
night reigns around us, and to utter words, though our tongues 
remain still. 

Other things of this class, exciting our wonder, we see in 
great numbers ; all which seek, as it were, to destroy the 
credit oi our senses : but they strive in vain ; since the greatest 
part of these appearances deceive us only because of the 
fancies wliich we allow to bear upon them ; so that those 
things which have not been seen by our senses, are to tis as if 
seen. For nothing is more difficult than to separate certain 
from doubtful things; things which the mind, when their 
fallaciousness is discovered, straightway rejects from itself.' 

Moreover, if any one believes that nothing is known,^ he 
himself, also, knows not whether that can be known from which 
he, forming a judgment, confesses that he knows nothing. 
Against him, therefore, I shall forbear to urge argument, who, 
of his own will, has placed himself with his face towards his 
footsteps.^ And although I should even grant that he knows 

> Things which the mind — straightway rejects from itself.] Ver. 469. 
Animus quas ah se protiwcs abdit. '" Abdit," says Wakefield, " repellit, 
rejicit, rejects the doubtful, that it may admit the certain." Lach- 
mann, with Lambinus and Creech, reads abseaddit, that is, "adopts 
from its own fancy." 

^ Moreover, if any one believes that nothing is known, §-c.] Ver. 
470. " These observations are directed against the Academics, who 
contend that nothing can be known and that the senses are falla- 
cious and deceitful." Lambinus. 

' Who, of his own will, has placed himself with his face towards 

M 2 

164 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 475— 489. 

this, I should still put to him the following question: when 
he has seen no truth in things previously, how he knows what 
it is to know and not to know, in contradistinction to one 
another ? What cause, / sludl ask him, produced his know- 
ledge of truth and falsehood, and what power has proved to 
him that what is doubtful differs from what is certain ? 

The knowledge of triitli, you will find, is derived from the 
senses as-its-origin,^ and you will own that the senses cannot be 
refuted. For that which, of its own power,^ can refute false 
7iotions by real facts, must be found of greater credit than to 
be liable to confutation. What, then, must be esteemed of 
greater credit than the senses? Sliall reasoning, arising from 
erring sense,^ — reasoning, 1 say, which has arisen Avholly from 
the senses, and which can depend on nothing else, — be of suffi- 
cient force to refute those senses'? For unless these, our 
senses, are true a7id trust- worth]/, all reasoning consequently 
becomes f^ilse and unfounded'? But what, that is external to 
the senses, shall confute the senses, or will they disagree among 
themselves, and refute one another? Will the ears be able to 
refute the eyes ? Or ivill the touch refute the ears ? Or will 
the taste of the mouth, moreover, refute the touch ? Will the 

his footsteps.] Ver. 473. Qui capita ipse siio in statuit vestigia sese. 
'' The order is, Qui ipse statuit sese su.o capite in vestigia : i. e. who has 
turned his head towards the footsteps which he lias left behind him, 
as if about to go over the same track, and has made no progress." 

' Tlie knowledge of truth, you will find, is derived from the senses 
as its origin, ^c. ] Ver. 479- Invenies primis ab sensibus esse creatam 
Notitiam veri. See i. 424. "I think nobody can in earnest," says 
Locke, "be so sceptical as to be uncertain of the existence of those 
things whch he sees and feels. At least, he that can doubt so far 
will never liave any controversy with me, since he can never be 
sure I say any thing contrarv to his opinion." Essay, book iv. 
11, 3, 8. 

^ For that which, of its own power, ^c.] Ver. 481. 

Nam majore fide debet reperirier illud, 
Sponte sua veris quod possit vincere falsa. 
It is a question what is to be understood after majorejide. Greater 
faith than what ? The commentators give no help. I have added 
that which makes, I hope, a satisfactory sense. Epicurus called 
ihe senses tlie criteria of truth. 

' Sliall reasoning, arising from erring sense, S^r.'] Ver. 484. A71 ab 
tetisufaho ratio orta, &-c. If tlie senses err, reasoning, which is based 
on the senses, c;uinot prove that they err. It could oidy litem Hie 
r,Mt,ivere. But the senses, as Lucretius proceeds *o show, do not err. 

B. IV. 490—519. LUCRETIUS, 165 

nostrils confute the other senses, or will the eyes contradict 
them'? It is, as I think, not so ; for to each sense is separately 
assigned its own faculty; each has its own power; and it is 
therefoi'e necessary that what is soft, and what is cold, and 
what is hot, should seem so; and it is necessary, also, that ive 
should perceive distinctly the various colours of things, and 
whatever things are connected with colours. The taste of the 
mouth, likewise, has its ow7i power separately ; scents are pi'o- 
duced independently, and sounds independently of the other 
senses; and it necessarily follows, thei-efore, that some senses 
cannot confute others. Nor again, will they, as a body, con- 
fute themselves ; for equal trust must at all times be placed 
in every one of them. That, therefore, which, at any time 
whatsoever, has seemed true to them, is true. 

And if reasoning shall be unable to unfold the cause why 
those objects which, when close at hand, were square, have 
appeared round at a distance, yet it is better /bra man, being 
partially deficient in reasoning, to give explanations of each 
figure erroneously, than by any means to let slip ' from his 
hands things that are manifest, and to destroy the first prin- 
ciples of belief, and tear up all the foundations on which life 
■and safety rest. For not only would all reasoning fall to the 
ground, but life itself would at once come-to-nothing, unless 
you venture to trust your senses, and to avoid precipices,^ and 
other things of this sort which are to be shunned, and to pur- 
sue those things which are of a contrary character. Tiiat, 
therefore, is all an empty body of words, you may be sure,-^ 
which is arrayed and drawn up against the senses. 

Lastly, as, in a building, if the rule is wrongly applied at 
first, if the square, being erroneously placed, deviates from the 
proper position, and if the level is in the least inexact in any 
spot, all parts-of-the-edifice are necessarily rendered faulty and 
distorted, and become ill-shaped, sloping, hanging forwards or 
backwards, and inconsistent with one another ; so that some 

' By any means to let slip.] Ver. 505. Dimittere qtwquam. " Glos- 
sator vetus : Quoquam, 6\u)q nov, ttoi." Wakcjield. Lambinus reads 

* ,To avoid precipices.] Ver. 510. Pracipitesque locos viture. 
Rupem et puteura vitare patent'em : Hor. Ep. ii. 135. " Too wise to 
walk into a well." Pojie. 

* You may be sure.] Ver. 512. Tibi. In ver. 521 I have omitted 

166 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 520-554. 

seem inclined to fall, and some actually do fall, being all made 
unsound by false measures at the commencement. Thus, ac- 
cordingly, whatever reasoning on tilings has sprung from fal- 
lacious senses, must of necessity be erroneous and deceitful. 
If the senses be false, all argument^ from them must be false. 

We have already spohen of sight ; and now no difficult 
argument is left for us, to shoiv how the other senses discern 
eacli its own object. 

In the first place, every sound and voice is heard, when, 
being infused into the ears, they have struck with their sub- 
stance on the sense. For we must admit that voice and sound 
are corporeal, since they can make impression on the senses. 
On this account the voice often abrades the throat, and its 
loud sound, as it passes forth, makes the wind-pipe rougher. 
For when the atoms of tlie voice (a larger body of them than 
usual having risen together) have proceeded to go forth from 
the mouth, the passage of the mouth, from the pores being 
filled up, is rendered hoarse, and the voice injures the road 
by which it issues into the air. It is by no means to be doubted, 
therefore, that voices and words consist of corporeal particles, 
as having power to cause corporeal injury. 

Nor does it escape your knowledge, also, how much sub- 
stance perpetual speaking, protracted from the rising splen- 
dour of Aurora to the shade of black night, detracts from the 
body, and how much it wears away from the very nerves and 
strength of men, especially if it is uttered with extreme loud- 
ness. The voice, therefore, must necessarily be corporeal, 
since he who speaks much, loses, from its effect, a portion of 
his corporeal-substance. 

Nor do the particles of sound penetrate the ear under a 
like form, when the crooked barbarian trumpet bellows hea- 
vily with a deep murmur, and calls up a hoarse dead-sound ; 
and when swans, in the pangs of death, raise, with a mourn- 
ful voice, a liquid dirge from the vales of Helicon. 

These words and sounds, therefore, (when, beiyig formed 
within, we expel them from our body, and send the:^. forth 
straight by the mouth,) th i active tongue, skilful-in-forming 
words, articulates ; and the shape into which the lips, are 
put, partly assists to fashion them. But asperity of the voice 
is caused by asperity of its particles, and its smoothness is also 
produced by their smoothness. 

B. IV. 555 -583. LUCRETIUS. 16"^ 

For this reason, when the distance is not great to the spot 
whence each word, having started forth, arrives at our ears, 
it happens, of necessity, that the words themselves are also 
plainly heard, and distinguished in-every-note ; for the voice 
keeps its formation, and maintains its figure. But if a greater 
space than is convenient is interposed, the words, passing 
through a large body of air, are necessarily confused, and the 
voice, while it flies through the aerial-interval, is disordered. 
It accordingly happens that you hear a sound, but cannot 
distinguish what is the meaning of the words ; ' so confused 
and obstructed does the voice come to you. 

Besides, one word, uttered from the mouth of a crier in the 
midst of the people, often penetrates the ears of all. One 
voice, therefore, suddenly divides into many voices, since it 
distributes itself to each individual ear, stamping on it, as it 
were, the form and clear sound of the words. But that part 
of the several voices which does not fall on the ears them- 
selves, is lost, being carried past them, and diffused through 
the air. Some portion of it too, struck against solid objects, 
(md rebounding like a stone,^ returns a sound, and sometimes 
mocks you with the semblance of a word. 

Which things when you consider, my good friend, you may 
be able to render an account to yourself and others, how rocks, 
in solitary places, regularly return similar forms of words to 
those which we utter, when we seek our companions wandering 
among the shady hills, and call them, as they are scattered 
abroad, with a loud voice. I have noticed places repeat six 
or seven words, when you uttered only one ; for the moun- 
tains, reverberating the words spoken, repeated them so that 
they were re-echoed ' without change. 

Such places the neighbouring people pretend that Satyrs and 
Nymphs inhabit ; and say that there are Fauns in them, by 

' Cannot distinguish what is the meaning of the words. J Ver. 
562. Neque ollam Internoscere, verborum sententia qu<g sit : i. e. ollam 
sententiam, qnce sit, or qwB sit olla sententia, Lanibnius, for ollam, 
reads kilum. 

" Rebounding like a stone.] Ver. 572. Lapts rejeda. This is 
Wakefield's reading and interpretation. But the soundness of the 
passage is very doubtful. Lachmann, following Lainbiaus, reads 
Pars solidis adlisa locis, rejecta sonorem, &c. 

' Repeated them so that they were re-echoed.] Ver. 501. Iterahant 
— referri. " Id est, w<Trt referri. ita ut referrentur." Wakefield. 

1G8 LUCRETIUS. B, IV. 184- -617 

whose noise, and sportive play, re-echoing through the night, 
they universally afiirm that the dead silence is broken, and 
that sounds of chords and sweet plaintive-notes are heard, 
wliich the pipe, struck with the fingers of those playing, pours 
ibrth around. They relate, also, that the race of husbandmen 
hear far and wide, when, frequently, Pan, shaking the piny 
garland of his half-savage head, runs over the open reeds witli 
his curved lip, ceasing not to repeat^ his sylvan song. Other 
wonders and prodigies of this kind they relate, lest, perhaps, 
they should be thought to dwell in lonely places, deserted even 
by the gods ; for this reason they talk of such marvels in their 
discourse, or, perchance, are prompted by some other cause, 
as all men are too eager for ears that will listen to wonderful 

Furthermore, it is not surprising, how, through places 
where the eyes cannot discern plain objects, through these 
very places voices pass, and excite the ears. We often, too, wit- 
ness a dialogue held between two persons in different apart- 
ments, with the doors closed. The cause is evidently this, that 
the voice can pass unbroken through winding pores of bodies, 
though images refuse to pass through them; for the latter are 
broken to pieces, unless they go through straight passages, 
such as those of glass, through which every image flies. 

Besides, the voice is distributed in all directions, inasmuch 
as some voices are produced from others ; for this happens 
where one voice has split itself into many, as a spark of fire, 
wlien it has started forth, is often wont to disperse itself into 
its own separate fires. Places, accordingly, which have been 
all shut up behind and around the speaker, are filled with 
voices, and shaken with sound. Butrt^s^oz-images, thei/SiW, when 
once they have been thrown oif, pass only by straight open- 
ings, for which reason no one can see objects beyond walls, 
though he may hear voices /row beyond them. And yet this 
very voice, also, while it goes through the obstructed passages, 
is dulled, and we seem to hear a sound rather than distinct words. 

That faculty, by which ^ we perceive taste, the organs being 

' Ceasing not to repeat.] Ver. 591. Ne cesset fund^re. 

^ Too eager for cars that will listen to wonderfitl stories.^ Ver. 59(5. 
Aridum nimis auricidarum. " Men, being eager for listeners, invent 
stories to attract them." Lambimis. 

' That facuUij, by which, <Src.] Ver. 617. Hoc, qui sentimm stunim, 

B. IV. 618—640. LUCRETIUS. 169 

the tongue and the palate, requires for itself somewhat more 
argument and more explanation. 

In the first place, we perceive savour in the mouth, when 
we express it from food by mastication ; as when any one, for 
example, proceeds to press and dry with his hand a sponge full 
of water. What we express, is then distributed through all the 
ducts of the palate, and the tortuous pores of the soft tongue.' 
By this means, when the atoms of the juice flowing out are 
smooth, they touch the sense agreeably, and affect all parts, 
around the humid exuding regions of the tongue, with plea- 
sure. But, on the other hand, as atoms are severally more 
endowed with roughness, so much the more, issuing forth in 
a body,^ they sting and lacerate the sense. 

Moreover, pleasure experienced from the taste of food is 
limited by the extent of the palate ; as, when the juice has 
descended downwards through the throat, there is no enjoy- 
ment while it is all being distributed through the members ; 
nor is it of any consequence with what food the body is 
nourished, so that you be but able to disperse what you take, 
when digested, through the organs, and preserve the humec- 
tant^ tenor and action of the stomach, 

I will now explain, (in order that we may understand this 
point,) how it is that different food is allotted to different ani- 
mals, or why that which is sour and bitter to some, may yet 
seem to others extremely sweet. And so great is the differ- 
ence and variety in these matters, that that which to some is 
food, to others is rank poison. Thus it happens that a ser- 
pent, which is touched with human saliva,* perishes, and even 

lingua afque palatum, Plmculum habent in se rationis, &c. The hoc is 
Wakefield's reading, and makes the passage nonsense. Lambinus 
reads H(ec qiieis, and Lachmann gives Nee qui. Wakefield interprets 
his hoc by hcBc res, and I have endeavoured to make the best of that 
which is bad. 

' Soft tongue.] Ver. 623. RartB Unguce, Of a spongy consistence, 
its atoms not being closely combined. 

^ Issuing forth in a body.] Ver. 627. Coorta. 

* Humectant.] Ver. 634. StomachiMimectum servaretenorem. "By 
humectits tenor stomachi he means that copious and constant supply 
of saliva and juices, which suffices to digest the food." Havercamp. 

* A serpent, which is touched with human saliva, ife.] Ver. 640. 
Serpens hominis qua tacta salivis, Disperit. This was a notion among 
the ancients. Lambinus refers to Plin. N. H. vii. 2 ; and it is also 
to be found in Aristotle and Galen. 

170 LUCRETIUS, n. IV. Gil— 07(5. 

commits suicifle by biting hunself. Besides, hellebore is 
strong poison to us, but increases the fat of goats and quails. 

That you may understand by what means tiiis happens, it 
becomes you in tlie first place to call to mind what we have 
often said before, that in bodies are contained many seminal- 
atoms, mingled in many ways. Moreover, as all living crea- 
tures, which take food, are dissimilar externally, and as the 
extreme outline of their limbs restricts them variously accord- 
ing to their kinds, so they consist of different seminal- 
particles, and vary in the ^gnvQ of their elements. Further, 
when the seminal-particles differ, their intervals and passages, 
which we call pores, in all the limbs, and in the mouth, and 
the palate itself, must liketvise differ. Some of these pores, 
therefore, must be greater, and some less ; some anitnah must 
have triangular pores, some square ; maxiy pores must be round, 
and some polygonal, varied in several ways. For as the na- 
ture of the shapes of the sem'nal-particles, and their motions, 
require, tlie figures of the pores must differ accordingly, and 
the intervals among the atoms must vary just as the combina- 
tion of the atoms demands. On this account, when that which 
is sweet to some animals is bitter to others, exquisitely-smooth 
atoms must enter gently and easily into the pores of the palate 
of that animal to whom it is sweet ; but, on the contrary, 
rough and jagged particles, as is evident, pierce the mouths 
of those animals to whom the same substance is bitter. 

From these facts it is now easy to understand every parti- 
cular connected with this subject. For when in any person 
fever has arisen from the superabundance of the bile, or any 
violence of disease has been excited by any other means, his 
whole body is at once disturbed, and all the positions of the 
atoms in him are changed ; it happens that particles which 
before suited his sense of taste, are now unsuitable to it, and 
others, which, when they have penetrated the pores, produce 
a bitte. sensation, are more adapted to it. For even in sweet 
bodies, as in the flavour and substance of honey, both rough 
and smooth particles are mixed ; a fact which we have de- 
monstrated to you frequently before.' 

And now give me your attention y«rMer; for I shall show 
in what manner the approach of odour affects the nostrils. 

' Demonstrated to you frequently before.] Ver. 674. See i. 8\5„ 
894; ii. 585. 

E. IV. 677—705. LUCRETIUS. ]?! 

First, there must necessarily exist many substances, from 
M^hicli a varied effluence of odours streams forth and evolves 
itself ; for tliat odours do both floAV off, and are sent forth 
and dispersed abroad, we must naturally suppose. But certain 
odours, on account of the different shapes of their particles, are 
more suited to some animals than to others : and thus bees 
are attracted by the smell of honey in the air, however far 
distant, and vultures by the smell q/" carcasses ; also the keen- 
scent of dogs, preceding their steps, leads them^ whithersoever 
the cloven hoof of the stag has directed its course ; and the 
white goose, the preserver of the citadel of the Eomans, per- 
ceives from afar the smell of a man. Thus different scent 
assigned to different animals, leads each to its own food, and 
causes it to recoil from destructive poison ; and by this means 
the tribes of beasts are preserved. 

©/"this very odour, then, which excites the nostrils, it hap- 
pens that one kind is carried farther than another ; but yet 
none of them is carried so far as sound, or as the voice ; — I 
forbear to say as those airy substances which strike the 
eyes, and excite vision. For odour, wandering about, passes 
but slowly, and, being dispersed through the yielding air, 
soon gradually dies away ;^ chiefly because it is with difficulty 
evolved out of any substance from its interior. For that 
odours flow and come forth from the interior of substances, 
this consideration sufficiently indicates, that all bodies when 
broken, bruised, or split into fragments in the fire, seem to 
cast a stronger scent than when whole. It is, besides, easy to 
see that odour is composed of larger atoms than sound ; since 
it does not penetrate through stone walls, through which the 
voice and sounds constantly pass. For which reason you will 
see that it is not so easy to ascertain in what quarter a body 
that casts a scent is placed, as to find out one that emits a sound. 
For the force and impulse of an odour, by moving slowly 
through the air, soon becomes chill and powerless ; nor do the 

* The keen-scent of dogs, preceding their steps, leads them.'] Ver. 
683. Permissa canum vis Ducit. Gronovius, cited by Havercamp, 
interprets permissa, " aiatrovaa, av^tlffa," or "penetrans, longe mis- 
sa." Vis I take in the sense oi f amity, keen-scent. In Virgil's odora 
canum vis, {JEn. iv. 132,) it probably means force, mmiher, multitude. 

* Soon gradually dies away.] Ver. 694. Perit anth Paullatim. I 
have considered a7ite equivalent to soon. Creech interprets it, " an- 
tequam longum iter conficiat." 

172 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 706—740. 

atoms, the heralds of substances, come warm to the sense. 
From this cause dogs are often at fault, and have to seek for 
traces of the scent. 

Nor does this occur, indeed, in respect to odours only, and 
in the case of tastes ; but the appearances and colours of 
things, likewise, do not so agree with the senses of all men 
alike, but that some are more acrid and repulsive to tlie sight 
than others. Even fierce lions cannot endure to stand against, 
and to look upon, a cock, which, as his flapping wings startle 
the night,' is accustomed to call Aurora with liis loud voice ; 
lions, I say, ivill not endure him, so suddenly do they bethink 
them of flight ; the cause evidently being, that there are in the 
bodies of cocks certain particles, which, when sent forth into 
the eyes of lions, pierce the pupils, and cause sharp pain, so 
that the beasts, however fierce, cannot hold out against them, 
although these same particles cannot at all hurt our eyes ; 
either because they do not penetrate, or because, if they do 
penetrate, a free outlet from the eye is permitted to them, so 
that they cannot in any respect hurt the organs of sight by 
remaining in them. 

And now give me your attention, and learn what substances 
aflect the mind ; and understand, in a few words, whence those 
things which come into the mind proceed. 

In the first place, I assert this, that numbers of subtle 
images of things wander about in many ways in all directions; 
images which, when they meet, are easily united together in the 
air, as the spider's web, and a leaf of gold. For these images 
are far finer in their texture than those which affect the eyes 
and excite vision ; since these penetrate through the small 
pores of the body, and excite the subtle substance of the mind 
within, and arouse the sense. 

Thus it is that we see Centaurs, and the members of Scylla;, 
and the Cerberean mouths of dogs, and the apparitions of 
those whose bones, after death has been passed, the earth con- 
tains. Since spectra of all kinds are every where carried I 
about, which are partly such as are formed spontaneously in 
the air, partly, whatever fly off from various objects ; and 
partly, those which images, formed of figures of these two kinds, 

'' As his flapping wings startle the night.] Ver. 712. Noctem ex- 
plodentibus alls. " His wings disturbing and driving away the night 
with sound and flapping." Lambimts. 

B, IV. 741—763. LUCRETIUS. 173 

compose.' Foi assuredly the image of a Centaur is not formed 
from a living Centaur, since there has been no such figure in 
life ; but when the images of a horse and a man have come 
together by chance, they easily and quickly cohere, (as we 
said before,) because of their subtle nature and filmy texture. 

Other images of this sort are produced in the same maimer ; 
and since these, from their extreme lightness, are, as I have 
shown above, swiftly carried about, any one thin image of 
them all easily stimulates our mind with a single impression ; 
for the mind is itself subtle and eminently excitable. 

That these things take place, as I state, you may easily 
learn from hence; that inasmuch as this impressiori on the 
mind"^ is similar to that on the bodily senses, it necessarily 
follows that that which we see with the mind, and that ivhich 
we «eewith the eye, are effected by similar means. As I have 
shown, accordingly, that I perceive lions, for example,^ by 
means of images of lions, which excite the eyes ; we may un- 
derstand that the mind is moved by images of lions in like 
manner, and by other images of other things,'^ which it sees 
a7id discerns equally and not less than the eyes ; only loe must 
observe that it sees more su btle imag es^ 

Nor~fcrr-anyotTief reason does this sense of the mind be- 
come awake when sleep has spread itself over the limbs, 
than because these same images excite our minds, which affect 
our senses Avhen we are corporeally awake ; to such a degree 
that we seem plainly to behold him, of whom, his life having 

' Partly, those which imafjes, formed of figures of these tioo kinds, 
compose.] Ver. 740. Et qucp. conficmnt ex horuni facta Jiguris. " Et 
quas imagines simulacra, ex horum duorum figuris facta, confici- 
unt." Wakefield. 

* Inasmuch as this impression on the mind, ^c.'\ Ver. 752. 
Quatenus hoc simile est illi, quod mente videmus 
Atque oculis, simili fieri vatione necesse est. 
"Hoc simile est illi; this is like to that; namely, the image in the 
mind to the image which strikes the eyes ; and therefore qiiod mente 
videmus et quod octdis videmus, what we see with the mind, and what 
we see with the eye, must be similarly produced." Wakefield. 

' For example.] Ver. 75t'. Forte. "Quasi ita dicat: finge me 
aliquo casu leones videre." Lamhimis. " Verbi gratia." Creech. 

■* By images of lions, and by other images of other things. 1 Ver. 

757. Per simidacra leonutn, cetera, qiue videt ceque. Nee minus, atque oculi, 
" Per simulacra leoiium et cetera simulacra, (i. e. aliarum rerum simu- 
ihCl'd,) quae videt seqiih atque ocuU." Forbiger. 

1T4 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 764-79-t. 

been yielded up, death and the earth have already taken pos- 
session. This Nature of necessity brings to pass ; and from 
this cause, that all the senses of the body, beinfj; obstructed 
and bound up hi/ sleep, are at rest throu<rhout the several mem- 
bers, and are unable to refute any false appearance by real 
facts. Besides, the memory lies inactive and torpid in sleep ; 
and shows no disbelief in appearances, or intimates that lie, 
whom the mind imagines that it sees alive, has long ago par- 
taken of death and forgetfulness. 

As to what remains /or consideration, it is not surpi'ising 
that images should move, and agitate their arms, and other 
members, with regularity ; for it happens that many an image 
seems to do this in our sleep. This is to be explained in the fol- 
lowing way ; that when the first image passes off, and a second 
is afterwards produced in another position, the former then 
seems to have changed its gesture. This, doubtless, we must 
conceive to be done by a very rapid process ; so great is the 
activity of images, and so great the number of things from 
which they proceed ; and so great too is tlie abundance of 
atoms, that it may suffice for that which is to be perceived by 
the senses, at anytime whatsoever. And many other ques- 
tions are raised on these matters, and many points must be 
made clear by us, if we wish to explain these subjects dis- 

In the first place, it is inquired why the mind immediately 
thinks of that very thing of which any one has desired to 
think.' Do images watch our pleasure, and, as soon as we 
wish, does an image present itself to us ? If it is our desire 
to think of the sea, of the earth, or of the heaven, of assem- 
blies of men, of a procession, of banquc^ts, of buttles, does 
nature create and prepare images of all these things at our 
Word? Especially when the minds of different men in the 
same country and place, think of things entirely different? 

What sliitU we say, moreover, when we perceive images in 
our sleep a<lvance before us in order, and move their pliant 
limbs ; wiien, as ive observe them, they wave with ease their 
bending arms alternately, and repeat gesture after gesture with 
the foot corresponding to the look ? Are images, forsooth, 
inspired with the art of dancing, and do they, skilled in ges- 

' Of which any one has desired to think.] Ver. 781. Quod cuique 
libido Veiwrit. Thai is, jiWf/ cuiquu libuerit {cogitare). 

B. IV. 795—813. LUCRETIUS. 175 

ticulation, wander about, in order that they may make sport ybr 
us in the night time ? Or will this rather be the truth, that 
we perceive that varieti/ of motions in one and the same por- 
tion o/ time ; as in that time in which one word is uttered,' 
many smaller portions of time, (which reason discovers to be 

in it,) are contained? From this cause it happens, that 

at any time whatsoever, any images ai*e ready at hand, pre- 
pared for all places ; so great is their activity, and so great 
the abundance of objects from which they proceed. By this 
means, when the first image passes away, and a second is 
afterwards produced in another position, the first then seems 
to Iiave changed its gesture. 

And because images are subtle, the mind cannot acutely 
discern any but those which it earnestly endeavours to discern ; 
all, therefore, which exist besides these, pass away unnoticed^ 
unless the mind has thus prepared itself and endeavoured to 
distinguish them. The mind, accordingly, does prepare itseh, 
and expects that that will occur which is consequent ' on that 
which has preceded; so that it observes each particular oc- 
currence. Thus, therefore, the effect is produced. 

Do you not see, also, that the eyes, when they have begun 
to look at things which are small, exert and prepare them- 
selves ; and that we could not, without this exertion, clearly 
d) 5cern them ? And even in respect, also, to objects easily dis- 
tinguishable, you may observe, that if you do not apply your 
mind to remark any one of them, it is just the same as if it 

' As in that time in which one word is uttered, ^r^.] Ver. 797. 
Consentimns id, nt, quum vox emittitur una, 
Tempera multa latent, ratio quse comperit esse. 
Does one time comprehend the motions of several times, as the pro- 
nunciation of one word comprehends the times of pronouncing each 
sj'Uable? See Wakefield. Lachmann ejects the first of these two 
verses. It had previously been condemned by Lambiniis and Fa- 
ber. " Ou bien ne sera-t-il pas plus veritable, que dans le terns que 
nous exprimons notre pensee par quelque voix, il y a plusieurs instans 
cachez dans V espace de ce terns, par le moyen desquels 1' agilite des 
images aussi bien que leur ecoulement universel, fbin-nit en quelque 
tems que ce soit, de quoi remplir la variete de la pensee." Coutures. 

- Expects that that will occur which is consequent, (?fc.] Ver. 807- 
Speratque futurum, Ut videat, quod consequitiir, rem qtiatnque. I have 
translated this according to the notion of Forbiger, as it is his text. 
Speratque futurum quod consequllttr, ut videat rem quamque. Other 
editions (except Wakefield's) put no stop after connequltur. 

176 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 814—829. 

were all the time removed and far distant /V-om you'? How is 
it therefore surprising, if the mind loses sight of all other 
imayes, except those concerning matters to which it is itself 
directed ? Besides, we form opinions of great things from 
small indications, and thus lead ourselves into the delusion of 

It happens, also, that sometimes a second image is not pre- 
sented of the same kind as the first, but that that which was 
before a woman under our hands, seems to be before us 
changed into a man ; or tliat one face, and one age follows 
after another; but at this, sleep and oblivion prevent us from 

In these matters, remember tliat it is necessary diligently 
to shun tliis fault,' and to avoid it cautiously, as a most griev- 
ous error ; the ffndt, nameh/, of supposing that all the parts 
of animals were formed with a vieiv to the uses to lohich they 
have been adapted; lest you should suppose that the bright 
luminaries of the eyes were produced that we may be able 
to see with them; and that the pillars of the legs and thighs, 
built upon the feet, wex'e united for this purpose, that we might 

' In these matters, remember that it is necessary diligently to shun 
this fault, §-c.] Ver. 824. 

Illud in his rebus vitium vehementer inesse 
Effugere errorem, vitareqne prjemetuenter, 
Luniina ne facias oculorum clara creata, 
Pros])icere ut possimus. 

It would occupy too much space to cite all the different readings of 
tliis passage, and the emendations which have been proposed. All 
commentators have seen tliat there is no satisfactory sense to be ex- 
tracted iVom it as it stands. I liave understood memento : (memento) 
inesse in his rebus velienienter effugere illud vitium (quasi) errorem, 
ifc. The only successful correction is Lachmann's, who alters the 
first line to Illud in his vitium vehementer rehu' necesse est ; a conjec- 
ture which the shades of Lambinus and Faber may wonder that 
they missed. 

" Lucretius maintains that tlie eye was not made for seeing, nor 
the ear for hearing. But the terms in whicli he recommends this 
doctrine sliow liow hard he knew it to be for men to entertain such 
an opinion. * * * Undoubtedly the poet is so far right, that a most 
'vehement caution and vigilant premeditation' are necessary to 
avoid the vice and error of such a persuasion. The study of the 
adaptations of the human frame is so convincing, that it carries the 
mind with it, in spite of tlie resistance suggested by speculative 
systems." WhewcU's Bridycwater Treatise^ p. 351' 

B. IV. 830—865. LUCRETIUS. 177 

take long steps on the road ; and, moreover, that the fore-arms 
fitted to the stout upper arms, and tlie hands ministering on 
either side, were given tis that we might perform those 
offices which would be necessary for the support ^life. 

Other suppositions of this sort — whatever exphinations men 
give — are all preposterous, reasoning being thus perverted. 
For nothing was produced in the body to the end that we 
might use it ; but that which has been produced, being found 
serviceable for certain ends, begets use. Neither Avas tJie fa- 
culty q/' seeing in existence before the light of the eyes was 
made, nor that o/" speaking with words before the tongue was 
formed; but rather the origin of the tongue long preceded 
speech, and the ears were made long before any sound was 
heard ; and, in fine, all members, as I think, existed before 
there was any use of them discovered. They could not, there- 
fore, liave been produced for the sake of being used. 

But, on the contrary, to engage in battle with the hand, and 
to tear the limbs, and to pollute the body with gore, was prac- 
tised long before bright darts were hurled ; and nature com- 
pelled us to avoid a wound, before the left hand, by the help 
of art, presented the defence of a shield. 

And, certainly, to commit the wearied body to rest is of 
much more antiquity than the soft cushions of the couch ; and 
to quench the thirst was practised before cups were invented. 

Such things as these, then, which were found out from expe- 
rience and the objects o/'life, may be believed to have Deen in- 
vented for the purpose of using them; those things, however, 
which were all first produced independently, gave a knowledge 
of tlieir utility afterwards. Of which kind, especially, we see 
that the senses and members of the body are. Wherefore again 
and again 1 say, it is impossible for you to believe' that they 
could have been produced for the sake of use. 

This, also, is not to be wondered at, that the very nature 
of the body of every animal requires food. For I have shown 
that many atoms pass off and recede from substances in many 
ways; but the most numerous must pass off ?vom animals; 
because they are exercised by motion, and many particles are 
carried forth, urged from the interior of the body, by perspir- 
ation ; many, also, are exhaled through the mouth, when they 

' It is impossible for you to believe.] Ver. 857. Procul est iti 
credere possis. 



LUCRETIUS. h. IV. 866—895. 

pant from weariness. By these means, therefore, the body 
wastes, and all its nature is undermined ; a state on which 
pain is attendant. On this account food is taken, that it may 
support the limbs, and, being given at intervals, may recruit 
the strength, and repress the eager desire of eating through- 
out the organs and veins. 

Liquid also descends into all pur ts of the hodj/, whatsoever 
require liquid ; and the moisture, coming into the fra?ne, dis- 
sipates the many collected atoms of heat, which cause a burn- 
ing in our stomach, and extinguishes them like fire, so that 
arid heat may no longer dry up our limbs. Thus, therefore, 
you see, panting thirst is expelled from our bodies ; thus the 
pining desire of food is satisfied. 

I will now state how it comes to pass that we can advance 
our steps when we please, and hotv it is given us to move 
our limbs out-of-the-direct-line ;' and what cause is wont to 
push forward this great weight of our body. Do thou, mr/ 
ffiend, attentively-receive my instructions. 

I affirm, then, that images of going first approach to the 
mind, and impinge on the mind, as we observed before re- 
specting images in general. Tlience arises will, for no man 
begins to do any thing, before his mind has discerned 
what it will do. And according to what it discerns, is 
the image of his action.^ When, therefore, the m.ind so stirs 
itself, that it desires to proceed and move forward, it immedi- 
ately acts on the substance of the soul, which is distributed in 
the whole body, and through the limbs and joints ; and this 
is easily done, since the substance of the soid is held united 
ivith the mind. That substance of the soul forthwith acts upon 
the body ; and thus, by degrees, the whole mass of the man 
is protruded and v[\o\edi forvmrds. 

The body at that time, moreover, opens its pores, and the 
air, which is always easily excited to motion, enters, as it na- 
turally must indeed, through the open spaces, and peneti-ates 

' Out-of-lhc-diroct-line.] Ver. 879. Varl. Wakefield's reading 
for the varic of other editors. 

* And according to what it discerns is the image of his action.] 
Ver. 886. Id, quod providet, illhis rei constat imago. ^^ Id, nenipe 
secundum, kotcl." Wakefield. So likewise Forbigcr. Lambinua 
reads At qxtod, ..y., and interprets the passage thus : " That wliich the 
mind foresees is the image of that thing which the man wills 
to do." 

B. IV. 896—930. LUCRETIUS. 17ii> 

the passages abundantly, and is thus dispersed through every 
minute portion of the body; thus, therefore, the body, by 
two several powers,' is made to move along as a ship with 
sails and wind. 

Nor yet is it wonderfid, in these matters, that atoms so 
small can wield so great a body, and turn about all our weight. 
For the wind, though but light and of thin substance, drives 
forward a large ship with vast power ; and one hand rules 
the vessel, with whatever speed it may be going ; while one 
helm turns it in any direction. And a machine, by the help 
of wheels and pulleys, lifts many bodies of great weight, and 
raises them on high with but a slight force. 

And now I shall explain by what means sleep spreads rest- 
through our limbs, and dispels the cares of the mind from our 
breast; but I shall do this rather in agreeably-sounding than 
in numerous verses, as the short melody of the swan^ is better 
than the croak of cranes, dispersed among the clouds of hea- 
ven, driven by the south wind. Do you only, Memmius. 
devote to me your attentive ears and discerning mind, that 
you may not deny what I say to be possible, and depart from 
me with a breast repelling true precepts, when you yourself 
are in fault, and yet cannot pei'ceive that such is the case. 

In the first place, sleep occurs when the substance of the 
soul has been disturbed throughout the several members, and 
has partly seceded from the body, {as being driven fortli 
abroad,) and has partly, as being more concentrated, retreated 
into the interior of the body ; for then, at length, loheti the 
frame is in this state, tlie limbs are relaxed and lose their power. 
Since there is no doubt but that this our vital sense exists in us 
by means of the soul, which sense when sleep hinders from be- 
ing exerted, we must then suppose that our soul is disturbed, 
and expelled from the body ; but not wholly, for if it were all 
loithdraicn, the body would lie steeped in the eternal cold of 
death, as, in that case, no part of the soul would remain latent 
in the membei'S, {concealed as fire lies hidden under thick 
ashes,) whence the sense might be suddenly rekindled through- 
out the limbs, and flame, as it toere, rise from secret heat. 

But by what means this change from wakefulness to sleep 

' By two several powers.] Ver. 897. Rebm utrinque duabiis. Vis. 
by the soul and the air. 
' Short melody of the swan, S^c.] See on ver. 181. 

N 2 

180 LUCRETIUS. jj. iv. 931— 962. 

is produced, and how the soul may be disturbed, and the boily 
languish, I will explain. Do you, my friend, take care that 
I may not pour out my words to the winds. 

In the first place, it necessarily haj)pens that the body, 
since it is touched by the breezes of the air to which it is ex- 
posed, must be externally assailed and harassed by the frequent 
impulse of that air ; and, for this reason, almost all animated 
bodies are covered with hide, or even with shells, or with hard 
skin, or bark. This same air, likewise, impinges on the in- 
terior part of the body of animals, when, as they breathe, it 
is drawn in and respired. For which reason, v/hen the body 
is affected from both causes,^ and when assaults penetrate 
through the small pores of our frame to its primary parts and 
first elements, a labefactation, as it were, takes place by de- 
grees throughout our members ; for the positions of the ele- 
ments of the body and mind are disturbed, so that part of the 
soul is drawn forth from them, and part retires hidden into 
the interior ; part also, dispersed throughout the limbs, cannot 
remain united together, nor perform its ordinary motions mu- 
tually ivith other parts ; for nature obstructs the communica- 
tions and passages, and therefore, the motions of the atoms being 
changed, sense wholly fails.^ And since there remains nothing 
that can, as it were, prop up the limbs, the body becomes weak, 
and all its members languish ; the arras and the eye-lids fall, 
and the hams often subside with a sinking lassitude,^ and relax 
their strength. 

Sleep, too, follows upon tahing food, because food, while it 
is being distributed tlirough all the veins, produces the same 
effects which the air produces ;. and that sleep is far the most 
iieavy which you take when full or weary ; because most of 
the atoms of the frame are then disturbed, being shaken with 
much effort. By the same means, a deeper concussion in the 
substance of the soul takes place, as well as a larger ejection 
of it without, and it becomes more divided in itself and dis- 
tracted within. 

' Affected from both causes.] Ver. 940. Utrinque seciis — vapulet. 
" Utrinque sems, that is, ej; utraque parte, internally and externally." 

- Wholly fails.] Ver. 9-50. Ahit alte, i. e. penitus, omnino. 

^ Sinkinfj lassitude] Ver. 9-34. Cubanti tamit. " By tama is meant 
excessive fatigue from walking, when the blood settles in the leps, 
and causes a swelling." Festm. 

R. IV. 963— 1001. LUCRETirS. 181 

Anil in general, as each of its, having pursued any study, 
is devoted to it in his thoughts, or in whatever occupation we 
have been much engaged previously, — and the mind has been 
more exerted in that pursuit, — we seem, for the most part, to 
go through the same employments in sleep. Lawyers seem 
to plead causes and to make laws ; generals to fight and en- 
gage in battles ; sailors to wage settled war with the winds : 
and myself to pursue this work, and investigate perpetually the 
nature of things, and to explain it, when discovered, in the 
language of my country. 

Thus other studies and arts seem generally, in sleep, to 
occupy the minds of men with delusions. And whatsoever per- 
sons have given continual attention to games and spectacles 
for many days in succession, we generally see that, in those 
persons, when they have ceased to observe those objects with 
their bodily senses, there are yet passages remaining open in 
the mind, where the same images of the same objects may 
enter. For very many days, therefore, those same images 
are presented before their eyes, so that they seem, even when 
awake, to see figures dancing, and moving their pliant limbs, 
and to listen with their ears to the liquid music and speaking 
•chords of the lyre ; and, likewise, to perceive the same assem- 
bly, and to contemplate, at the same time, the various decora- 
tions of the scene shining before them. Of so great influence 
is study and inclination, and so much difference does it make 
in what pursuits, not only men, but indeed all animals, have 
been accustomed to be e — ged. For you will see stout horses, 
when their limbs shall i tretched in sleep, yet perpetually 
perspiring and panting, . apparently exerting their utmost 
strength for the palm of v "i/, or often starting in their sleep 
as if the barriers were jiu open. 

And the dogs of huntsmen, when stretched in gentle repose, 
often throw out their legs on a sudden, and hurriedly utter 
cries, and frequently drav/ in the air with their nos+rils, as if 
they were pursuing the /?e«t7//-discovered traces of wild-beasts; 
and oftentimes, after they are awakened, they follow in ima- 
gination the empty images of stags, as if they saw them turned 
to flight, until, their delusions being dispelled, they return to 
their senses. And the fawning breed of dogs that are accus- 
tomed to the house, begin at times to rouse themselves and 
start up from the ground, just I'.s if they sa>v strange faces 

182 LUCRETIUS. e. iv. 1002—1028 

and looks. And the more fierce any breeds are, the more must 
the same breeds show fierceness in their sleep. 

But various birds, likeivise, take fli^iht, and suddenly disturb 
Avitli their wings the groves of the gods during the night, if, 
in tlieir quiet sleep, hawks have appeared, pursuing and flying 
after thetn, to offer bittle and threaten hostilities. 

Moreover the minds of men, whatever great things they 
efl*ect with vsst efforts in the day, frequently perform and 
carry on the same things also during their sleep. Kings 
storm cities} ."e taken prisoners, join battle, raise a cry as if 
they were beii.^ stal)bed on tlie spot. INIany struggle-desper- 
ately, and utter groans as if in pain, and fill all parts around 
witli loud shrieks, as if they were torn by the bite of a panther 
or savage lion. Many in sleep speak of important matters ; 
and men have very often made in dreams a revelation of 
their own guilt. Many, apparently, A\e; many show terror 
through their whole frame, like persons who are casting them- 
selves to the ground from high mountains, and, as if deprived 
of their senses, {so disturbed are they by the agitation of their 
body,) scarcely, after sleep, recover themselves. 

A thirsty man, also, in his dream, often sits near a river or 
pleasant fountain, and almost swallows up the whole stream 
with his month. Boys, too, bound fast in sleep, fancy that, 
being near a tank or broken vessel, they are raising up their 
garment, o;?<? pour forth the bottled liquid^ of the whole body, 
when the Babylonian coverlets, of magnificent splendour, are 

Or when, at length,^ the full ripe hour is reach'd 
Of vigorous manhood, and the genial stores 

' Kings storm cj^j'es.] Ver. 1010 Beges expnc/nant. " Kings, 'whose 
minds are agitated with mighty thoughts in the day, are naturally 
occupied with similar thoughts during the night, and accordingly 
storm, e. g. towers, fortresses. Thus reges will be the nominative 
case, which I think proper to mention, because some commentators 
have injudiciously taken it for the accusative." Wakefield. 

"^ Bottled liquid.] Ver. 1025. Humorem saceatum. 

^ Orwhen,atlength,4rc.] Ver. 1027. The remainder of this book 
it is thought advisable to give in the version of Dr. Good. In tran- 
scribing it for the press, six or seven words, at most, have been 
altered, partly to make nearer approaches to the text, and partly 
for other reasons. What Lucrct-. js here presents to his reader, is a 
series of philosophical and mora ;> nervations and precepts. They 

B. IV. 1029—1041. LUCRETIUS. 183 

Crowd through the members, ceaseless then, at night, 

Forms of the fair, of look and hue divine, 

Rush on the spirit, and the ducts of love 

So stimulate, vs^here throngs the new-born tide, 

That, as the tender toil were all achiev'd, 

Full flows the stream, and drowns the snowy vest. 

For, as we erst have sung, the seeds of life 
First spring when manhood first the frame confirms. 
And as on various functions various powers 
Alone can act propulsive, human seeds 
By nought but human beauty can be rous'd. 
These, when once gender'd from their cells minute 
O'er every limb, o'er every organ spread. 
Crowd in full concourse tow'rds the nervous fount 
By nature rear'd appropriate ; whence abrupt 
Excite they oft, as forms of beauty rise, 
The scenes at hand, the regions ruled by love. 

are subjects, says Good, " that naturally fall within the scope of a 
poem written expressly upon the Natitre of Tilings,'' and "our poet 
is entitled," he adds, " to the joint thanks of naturalists and ana- 
tomical philosophers for irradiating their dark and thorny paths 
with the light and tire of the Muses. * * * Lucretius is a lecturer 
upon natural philosopliy ; he admits us to his theatre, and gravely 
and scientifically developes the pi'inciples of this important subject. 
* * * A serious and attentive reader of this truly learned, as well 
as poetical discourse, whether male or female, cannot possibly, 1 
think, peruse it without the acquisition of some degree of usefid 
knowledge ; and even the medical professor himself cannot hut be 
astonished at the copiousness of his research, and the accuracy that 
accompanies much of its reasoning." 

" There is her.e no impurity of language, nothing that may not be 
mentioned with propriety. If any thing shall appear objectionable, 
such appearance is to be attributed, not to the faidt of the poet, but 
to that of the reader." Faber. 

" De amore, sterilitate, foecunditate, et aliis omnibus banc ma- 
teriam attingentibus, liberiiis forsan et apertius, quam nonnulli vel- 
lent, disputat ; sed pbilosophis saltem, vel in his tractandis, videtur 
esse indulgendum." Wakejield. 

Let us also, for once, transcribe a note from Busby. " I have 
observed," says the Doctor, " that my author addresses himself only 
to high and cultivated intellect. The remark applies here with pe- 
culiar force. Lucretius was too much of a man of sense, too much 
'j of a philosopher, too well acquainted with human feelings, not to 

II know that the higher order of minds are little liable to seduction 

from the gross exposures of nature ; and only to such minds is hit: 
poem addressed." 

^^^ LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 1042— 1075. 

Tlion springs the tender tumour, the warm wish 

Full o'er the foe, the luscious wound who deals, 

With dpxt'rous aim to pour the high-wrought charge, 

And full contending in the genial fight. 

So falls the victim on the part assail'd : 

With the red blood the glist'ning bruise so swells ; 

And o'er th' assassin flows the tide he draws. 

So he who feels the shaft of love propell'd 
From the dear form that charms him, tow'rds the spot 
Aims, whence the wound proceeds ; supreme he pants 
To join the con*-est, and from frame to frame 
Pour the rich h-^mour; for the fierce desire, 
Now felt, assures how vast the bliss to come. 
Tliis, this is Venus : this he deems true love ; 
Hence flow the drops delicious that the heart 
Erode hereafter, and its train of cares. 
For, though tlie form adored be absent, still 
Her phantoms haunt the lover, and his ear 
Rings with her name, whate'er the path pursued. 

Yet fly such phantoms, from the food of love 
Abstain, libidinous ; to worthier themes 
Turn, turn thy spirit ; let the race at large 
Thy liberal heart divide, nor lavish, gross. 
O'er one fond object thy exhausted strength, 
Gend'ring long cares, and certain grief at last. 
For love's deep ulcer fed, grows deeper still, 
Rank, and more pois'nous ; and each coming day 
Augments the madness, if the wretch, perchance, 
Heal not old wounds by those of newer date. 
From fair to fair wide-wand'ring, or his mind 
Turn from such subjects to pursuits unlike. 

Nor are the joys of love from those shut out 
Who brutal lust avoid ; the pure of heart 
Far surer pleasures, and of nobler kind. 
Reap, than the wretch of lewd and low desires, 
AVho, in the moment of enjoyment's self, 
Still fluctuates with a thousand fears subdued; 
O'er the fair wanton, dubious, long Avho hangs. 
What charm his eyes, his hands sliall first devour: 
Till fix't, at length, with furious force the spot 
Painful he presses, through his luscious lips 


B. IV. 1129—1163. LUCRETIUS. 187 

And scatter'd roses ceaseless are renew'd. 

But fruitless every art ; some bitter still 

Wells forth perpetual from his fount of bliss. 

And poisons every flow'ret. Keen remorse 

Goads him, perchance, for dissipated time, 

And months on months destroy'd ; or from the fair 

Haply some phrase of doubtful import darts, 

That, like a living coal, his heart corrodes ; 

Or oft her eyes wide wander, as he deems. 

And seek some happier rival, while the smile 

Of smother'd love half-dimples o'er her cheeks. 

Such are the ills that on amours attend 
Most blest and prosp'rous ; but on those adverse 
Throng myriads daily, obvious and more keen. 
Hence, by the muse forewarn'd, with studious heed 
Sliun thou the toils that wait ; for easier far 
Those toils to shun, than, when thy foot once slides, 
To break th' entangling meshes and be free. 

Yet though insnar'd, and in the silly net 
Led captive, thou may'st still, if firm of mind. 
And by these numbers sway'd, thy foot release. 
First the defects, then, of the form ador'd, 
, Of mind, of body, let thy memory ne'er 
One hour forget ; for these full oft mankind 
See not, by passion blinded ; while, revers'd, 
Charms they bestow which never were the fair's. 
Hence frequent view we those, each grace denied, 
The coarse, the crooked, held in high esteem. 
And lovers laugh o'er lovers, and exhort 
Offerings to Venus since so vilely sway'd. 
While yet themselves are sway'd more vilely still. 
To such the black assume a lovely brown ; 
The rank and filthy, negligence and ease ; 
The red-eyed is a Pallas ; the firm-hmb'd. 
All bone, a bounding roe ; the pigmy dwarf, 
A sprightly grace, all energy and wit ; 
The huge and bulky, dignified and grand ; 
The stammerer lisps ; the silent is sedate ; 
The pert virago, spirit all and fii'e ; 
The hectic, fine and delicate of frame ; 
The victim worn with pulmonary cough, 

'^B LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 1164—119? 

On life's last verge, a maid of matchless waist ; 
The broad, big-bosom'd, Ceres full display'd, 
As from the bed of Bacchus ; the flat-nos'd 
Of monkey shape, a Satyr from the woods : 
And the broad-lipp'd, a Nymph for kisses form'd. 

But countless such conceits, and to narrate 
Idle ; yet grant the frame ador'd possess'd 
Of face divine, tliat all tlie power of love 
Plays o'er each limb symphonious, others still 
Exist of equal beauty ; still ourselves 
Once liv'd without her ; and full well we know 
She, too, each art essays the baser need, 
And so with scents bedaubs her that her maids 
Far fly oppress'd, and vent their smother'd laugh. 

Then, too, the wretched lover oft abroad 
Bars she, who at her gate loud weeping stands, 
Kissing the walls that clasp her ; with perfumes 
Bathing the splendid portals, and around 
Scattering rich wreaths and odoriferous flowers. 
Yet when at length admitted, the first breath 
So deep offends him, he some motive seeks 
Instant to quit her ; his long-labour'd speech 
Of suffering drojxs, and owns himself a fool. 
That for one moment he could deem her crown'd 
With charms the race of mortals ne'er can boast. 
This know full well the Paphian nymphs, and, deep 
Behind the scenes of action, each defect 
Strive they to hide from him they fain would sway. 
But vain th' attempt ; for oft the mind will guess 
The latent blemish, and the lauo^h unfold. 
Whence those of soul ingenuous frankly own. 
Frequent, those faults which none can all escape. 

Yet not for ever do the softer sex 
Feign joys they feel not, as with close embrace, 
Breast join'd to breast, their paramours they clasp, 
And print their humid kisses on their lips. 
Oft from their hearts engage they, urg'd amain 
By mutual hopes to run the race of love. 
Thus nature prompts ; by mutual hopes alone, 
By bliss assur'd, birds, beasts, and grazing herds, 
The task essay ; nor would the female else 

B. IV. 1197—1230. LUCRETIUS. 1 89 

E'er bear the burden of the vigorous male, 
By mutual joys propell'd. Hast thou not seen, 
Hence tempted, how in mutual bonds they strive 
Work'd oft to madness ? how the race canine 
Stain with their vagrant loves the public streets. 
Diversely dragging, and the chain obscene 
Tugging to loose, while yet each effort fails ? 
Toils they would ne'er essay if unassur'd 
Of mutual bliss, and cheated to the yoke. 
Whence o'er and o'er the bliss must mutual prove. 

If when the male his genial energy 
Imparts, the female deep her breath retract 
Transported most, the race produc'd will, then, 
From female store prove female ; if revers'd, 
From store paternal, male. But when the form 
Blends both its parents' features, it ascends 
From equal powers of each ; the impulse warm 
Rousing alike, through each conflicting frame, 
The seeds of latent life in scale so nice 
That neither conquers, nor to conquest yields. 

Oft view we, too, the living lines portray'd 
Of ancestors remote ; for various seeds. 
Commingled various, through the parent frame 
Lurk, which from race to race preserve entire 
The form, the features of the anterior stock. 
Diversely such the power creative blends ; 
Whence oft the voice revives, tlie hair, the hue, 
The full complexion of the race deceas'd ; 
For these as sure from seeds defin 'd ascend 
As e'en the face, the body, or the limbs. 
Then, too, though male the fetus, female stores 
Aid the production ; while, if female form'd, 
The tide paternal mixes in the make ; 
For both must join, or nought can e'er ensue. 
But obvious this, that when the semblance more 
Inclines to either, the prevailing sex 
Chief lent the seeds of life, and rear'd complete 
The virgin embryo, or incipient man. 

Nor ever interfere the gods above 
In scenes like these, the genial soil lock up, 
Or curse with bai'ren love the man unbleat. 

390 LUCRETIUS. B. IV 1231— 12C4. 

No lovely race who I oasts to hail him sire, — 
As deem the many, who, in .sadness drown'd, 
Oft offer victims, and, witli irafjrant gums, 
Kindle the blazing altar, wearying heav'n 
Vainly, tc ill the void reluctant womb. 
For blank sterility from seeds ascends 
Too gross, or too attenuate ; if the last. 
Ne'er to the regions that generic spread 
Cleave they, rejected instant as propell'd. 
But if too gross the genial atoms, dull 
Move they, and spiritless, or never urg'd 
With force sufficient, or of power devoid 
The puny ducts to pierce, or, pierc'd, to blend 
Harmonious with the vital fluid found. 
For Jove harmonious, whence increase alone 
Can j>ring, oft differs largely ; easier far 
Some filling some, and others easier fiU'd 
And gravid made by others ; whence, at timeSj 
Those, many a Hymen who have erst essay'd 
Vainly, at length th' appropriate stores acquire, 
And feel the lovely load their wombs enrich. 
While he, perchance, whose prior banns forbade 
All the fond hope of offspring, happier now 
A mate has found of more concordant powers, 
And boasts a race to prop his crumbling age. 

So much imports it that the seeds of life 
With seeds should mix symphonious, that the 
Condense the rare, the rare the gross dilute. 
And man with woman duly pair'd unite. 
Much, too, concerns it what tlie foods employ'd : 
For some augment the genial stores, and some 
Dissolve their crasis, and all power destroy. 
Nor small the moment in what mode is dealt 
The bland delight. Tiie sage who views minute 
Herds, and the savage tribes by nature led, 
Holds that the virtuous matron chief conceives. 
When, with subsiding chest, and loins erect, 
Her dulcet charms she offers, fittest then 
The luscious tide t' absorb ; for nought avail 
Exerted mentions, the perpetual heave 
Of frame high-strainVl^ and ever-labouring lungs 

B. IV. 126,3— r2S3. LUCRETIUS. 191 

These, rather, iirg'd beneath the tender fray, 

All fruit prohibit ; since the genial share 

Oft turn they from the furrow as it holds 

Its course direct, and break th' impinging shock. 

And hence the wanton mistress acts like these 

Frequent indulges, to preclude increase. 

And more transport the lawless form she clasps : 

Arts the chaste matron never needs essay. 

Nor from the darts of Venus, nor the smile 
Of gods above, is she of homelier make 
Frequent belov'd ; the praise is all her own. 
By her own deeds, by cleanliness most chaste, 
And sweet consenting manners, the delight 
Lives she of him who blends his lot with herp. 

Such virtues must prevail, and day o'er day 
Perfect their power ; for, though of gentlest kind, 
Yet urg'd perpetual, such the sternest heart 
Must gradual soften, and at length subdue. 
Hast thou not seen the fountain's falling drops 
Scoop in long time the most obdurate stoue? 



Lucretius commences with the praise of Epicurus, and showe that he de» 
serves to be called a deity more than any other benefactor of mankind, 
ver. 1 — 55. He then states the subject of the present book, ver. 56 — 91, 
and proceeds to show that the world is not eternal, ver. 92 — 110, and that 
the heavenly bodies are not, as the Stoics thought, portions of the divine 
nature, nor, as the vulgar suppose, the abode of the gods, ver. Ill — 156. 
That the world was not made by the gods for the sake of man, or for their 
own pleasure, may be concluded from the e\ils existing in it, and from 
other arguments, ver. 156 — 235. As the four elements are changeable 
and perishable, we must consider that the world which they constitute is 
of a similar natvire, ver. 236 — 324. That the world had a beginning, 
appears from the recent commencement of its history, and the present 
imperfection of many arts among its inhabitants, ver. 325—351; that it 
will have an end, all reasoning respecting it conspires to render probable, 
ver. 352 — il6. The formation of the different parts of the world accord- 
ing to the cosmogony of Epicurus, ver. 417 — 509. Causes of the motions 
of the heavens, and of the earth's remaining at rest, ver. 510 — 564. The 
magnitudes of the heavenly bodies, ver. 565 — 612. Their phoenomena, 
and the causes of day and night, ver. 613 — 702. Of the phases of th(! 
moon, and the eclipses of the moon and sun, ver. 703 — 777. The produc- 
tion of plants, animals, and man, ver. 778 — 834. Nature, in her early 
efforts at production, may have generated monsters, but not such as Chi- 
niaeras or Centaurs, ver. 835 — 922. The rudeness of the early life of man, 
the commencement of culture, and the invention of speech, ver. 923 — 
1089. The discovery of fire, and its effects ; the progress of society anu 
government, ver. 1090 — 1159. The rise of religion from ignorance of na- 
tural causes, ver. 1160 — 1239. The discovery of metals, and the origin 
su^d progress of the arts, both useful and elegant, ver. 1240 — 1456. 

194 LUCRETIUS, B. V. 1-31. 

Who is able, with mighty genius, to compose a strain 
U'orthy of the majesty of things, and of these discoveries of 
Epicurus? Or who has suc^h power over words, that he can 
compose eulogies proportionate to the merits of him, who has 
left to us such blessings obtained and acquired by his own 
intellect ? No one, as I tliink, formed of a mortal body, will 
ever be able. For if we ought to speak as the known dignity 
of the subjects lohich he expounded requires, he was a god, a 
god, / safj, illustrious Memmius, who first discovered that 
discipline of life' which is now called wisdom ; and who, by 
the science of philosophy, placed human existence, from amid 
so great waves of trouble, and so great darkness of the mind, 
in so tranquil a condition and so clear a light. 

For compare ivith his hwestigations the ancient discoveries 
of others which are called divine ; as Ceres is said to have 
pointed out corn to mortals, and Bacchus the liquid of wine 
produced from the grape ; though life, nevertheless, might 
have continued without these gifts, as it is reported that some 
nations even now live xoithout them; but men could not have 
lived well and happily without a pure and undisturbed breast. 
For which reason he, from Avhom the sweet consolations of 
existence, now spread abroad through mighty nations, calm 
the minds of inen, seems to us the more justly to be accounted 
a god. 

But if you shall imagine that the deeds of Hercules excel 
his, you will be carried far away from sound reasoning. For 
what harm would those vast jaws of the Nemasan lion, and the 
bristly Arcadian boar, do to us at present ? Or what injury 
could the bull of Ci-ete, and the Hydra, the pest of Lerna, de- 
fended with poisoned snakes, inflict on us at this time? Or how 
could the triple-breasted strength of the three-fold Geryon 
hurt us ? And how could the horses of Diomede, breathing 
fire from their nostrils, dicelling near Thrace, and the Bisto- 
nian regions, and Ismarus ; or how could the Arcadian birds, 

* Discovered that discipline of life, <S|C.] Ver. 9. Vitee rationem in- 
venit earn qricE nunc appellatur sapientia. Wakefield ailduces, on this 
passage, Cic. de Fin. i. 5, where the philosophy of Epicurus is first 
called Epicuri ratio, and afterwards discipUna. Sapientia is equiva- 
lent to tnie philosophy. Horace (Od. i. 34, 2) alludes to the doc- 
trines of Epicurus as insaniem sapientia, "an erring or insane philo- 

B. V. 32-60. . LUCRETIUS. 195 

formidable with their hooked talons, inhabiting the lake Stym- 
phalus, iiave so much annoyed us that we should think much 
of their destruction? Or how, I pray, would the fierce ser- 
pent, with his stern looks and huge body, that watched, as ho 
encircled the stem of a tree, the shining golden apples of the 
Hesperides, have interfered with our comfort, when he lived- 
near the shore of the ocean, and the rough waters of the sea, 
whither neither any countryman of ours goes, nor ayiy barba- 
rian dares to approach'? 

How, I ask, would other monsters of this kind, which have 
been killed, hurt us, if they had not been conquered, and ivere 
now alive ? Not at all, as I am of opinion ; for thus, even 
now, the earth is abundantly overrun ^ with wild beasts, and 
filled with alarming terror throughout the groves, and vast 
mountains, and deep woods ; but these are places which we 
for the most part have power to avoid. 

But unless the mind is purified, what contests and dangers 
inust we incur in spite of our utmost efforts ! How many 
bitter cares, arising from lust, tear the man distracted by them, 
and how many consequent terrors ! Or what ills do pride, 
uncleanness, wantonness, produce! How great calamities do 
they cause ! And what evils do luxury and sloth generate! 

Will it not be fit, then, that we should deem this man, who 
subdued all these evils, and expelled them from the mind, not 
with arras, but with words, worthy to be ranked in the num- 
ber of tlie gods ? Especially when he was accustomed to give 
precepts, both numerous and divinely expressed, concerning 
the immortal gods themselves, and to set Ibrth in his instruc- 
tions the whole nature of things. 

This is he on whose track I have entered, whilst I pursue 
his system of philosophy, and show, in these expositions, how 
necessarily all things individually continue-their-existence ac- 
cording to that law by which they were produced, and how 
impotent they are to bi'eak tlie strong conditions of time and 
destiny? In which class of things produced and limited in ex- 

• Is abundantly overrun.] Ver. 40. Ad satietatem — scatlt. " Ad 
satietatem, i. e. irpbg Kopov, valde, very much or abundantly." Lain- 

' To break the strong conditions of time and destiny.l Ver. 5!». 
Validas avi rescmdere leges. "To endure beyond the bounds fixed 
and appointed by nature." Creech. 

o 2 

196 LUCRETIUS. B. ^, 61—82. 

istence, the substance of the mind, above all, lias been found to 
be ; and has been demonsti-atcd to be formed of a generated 
con.sistence at first, and to be unable to endure uninjured 
through vast eternity. But / have also made it plain, that 
when we seem to behold him, in our sleep, whom life has left, 
mere images are accustomed to deceive the mind. 

For what remains, the course of my subject has now- 
brought me to tiie point at which I have to demonstrate that 
the world • consists of dissoluble matter, and that it had also 
a beginning ; and to shoiv by what means the combination 
of matter established the earth, the heaven, the sea, the stars, 
the sun, and the globe of the moon ; and what living creatures 
sprung from the earth, and Avhat, though believed to have ex- 
isted, have at no period been produced. ^ / have also to tell 
how the human race, with various speech, began to hold in- 
tercommunication^ by means of names of things ; and by what 
process that oppressive fear of the gods entered the breasts of 
men ; a fear which maintains throughout the world sacred 
temples, lakes, groves, altars, and images of the divinities. 

1 shall besides explain by Avhat force ruling nature guides the 
courses of the sun and the paths of the moon, lest, perchance, 
we should think that these bodies pursue eternal revolutions 
unrestrained and of themselves, in order to promote the 
growth of fruits and living creatures ; and lest we should sup- 

' The course of my subject has now brought me to the point at 
whicli I have to demonstrate that the world, ^c.] Ver. 65. 
Nunc hue ration is detiilit ordo 
Ut mihi, mortal! consistere corpore mundum, 
Nativumque simul, ratio reddunda sit, esse. 
" He now proceeds to show that the world was pi-oduced, and will 
perisli. * * * Plato supposed that the world had a beginning, but 
that it will not have an end; not because it is eternal by its own 
nature, or because he denies that every thing which is born decays; 
but, on account of the goodness of the deity who made it, and who 
will not sufier a work so excellent and perfect to fall to pieces. 
Aristotle thought that it had no beginning and will have no end. 
Epicurus believed both that it had a beginning and will have an 
end." Lamhinus. " To the point at which " answers to hue — ut. 

2 What — have at no period been produced.] Ver. 71. Qua nulla 
shit tempore 7uitcv. " Understand Chimaeras, Centaurs, Scyllae, Her- 
maphrodites, Ar. " Faher. 

' To hold intercommunication.] Ver. 73. Inter se yesci. " Vesci, 
i. e. to live, or enjoy life, by the formation of society ; in a secondary 
pense of the word." Wakefield. 

B. V. 83—105. LUCRETIUS. 197 

pose that they are guided by any plan of the gods. For if 
those who have fairly understood that the gods pass a life free 
from care, nevertheless wonder, meanwhile, how things can 
severally be carried on, especially in those matters which are 
seen in the ethereal regions over our heads, they are carried 
back again to their old notions of religion, and set over them- 
selves cruel tyrants, whom they unhappily believe able to do 
all things ; being themselves ignorant what can, and what can- 
not, be done, and by what means limited pov/er, and a deeply 
fixed boundary, are assigned to every thing. 

To proceed, then, and to delay you no longer with pro- 
mises, contemplate, in tlie first place, the sea, and the earth, 
and the heaven ; the triple nature of which, dear Memmius, 
(three bodies, three forms so dissimilar, three substances of 
such a different consistence,) one day will consign to destruc- 
tion ; and the mass and fabric of the world, sustained through 
so many years, shall sink into toted dissolution} 

Nor does it escape ray consideration, how new and wonder- 
ful a subject it is for your reflection, that there will be an end 
to the heaven and the earth ; and how difficult it is for me to 
convince you of this with arguments ; as it generally happens, 
indeed, when you offer to the ear a subject hitherto strange to 
it, and yet cannot submit it to the sight of the eye, or put it 
into the hand ; the avenues through which the nearest main 
road 2 of belief leads into the human breast and the regions of 
the mind. But yet I will express my thoughts; fact itself, 
perhaps, will bring credit to my words, and you will see, per- 

' The mass and fabric of the world — shall sink into total dissolution.'] 
Ver. 97. Ruet moles et niachina mundi. 

Flowers of the sky ! ye, too, to age must yield, 
Frail as your silken sisters of the field! 
Star after star from heaven's high arch shall rush, 
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush ; 
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall. 
And Death, and Night, and Chaos, mingle all ! 

Darioin's Botanic Gardc7i, iv. 371. 

2 The avenues through which the nearest main road, %c.'] Ver. 
103. Via qua munita fidei Proxima fert humanum in pectus templaque 
mentis. " Via jiroxinia is the nearest or shortest way; for we most 
readily believe what we discover bj' sight and touch-" LanMmis. 
The common people, in many parts of England, have a saying, that 
' Seeing is believing, and feeling is truth." 

198 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 106— l4l. 

chance, all things violently shaken, in a brief space of time, 
with rising convulsions of the earth ; which time may Fortune, 
icith commnnding poiver, avert far from us ; and may reason, 
"ather tlian reality, convince us that all things, overcome bi/ 
the influence of time, may sink with a direfully-sounding 
crash into destruction. 

On this subject, before I begin to utter oracles, {expressed 
Avith more sincerity, and with much more true reason, than 
those of t\\Q Pythian priestess, who speaks from the tripod and 
laurel of Apollo,) I will set forth to you many consolations in 
learned and philosophic arguments, lest, perchance, being re- 
strained by religion, you should suppose that the earth, the 
sun, the heaven, the stars, and the moon, beijig endowed with 
a divine nature, must pursue their courses eternally; and lest 
you should conceive, in consequence, that it is just for all 
those, (after the manner of the giants,) to suffer punishment 
for their monstrous wickedness, who, by their reasoning, 
would shake the walls of the world, and seek to quench the 
radiant sun in the heavens ; animadverting, in mortal speech, 
on bodies lohich are called immortal, but which, in realitij, 
are so far distant from divine poAver, and are so unworthy tc 
appear in the number of gods, that they may rather be thought 
adapted to give us a notion of that which is altogether re- 
moA'ed from vital motion and sense. 

For it is not possible that the nature and rationality of in- 
tellect should be thought capable of existing in all kind^ of 
bodies Avhatsoever. As a tree cannot exist in the sky,' nor 
clouds in the salt sea ; nor can fish live in the fields, nor blood 
be in wood, nor liquid in stones ; so it is fixed and appointed 
where every thing may grow and subsist. Thus the nature 
of the mind cannot spring up alone Avithout the body, or exist 
apart from the nerves and the blood. Whereas if this could 
happen, tlie faculty of the humansovX might rather arise in the 
liead, or slioulders, or in the bottom of the heels, and might 
rather indeed be accustomed to grow in any place, than to 
remain in the same man and the same receptacle of the man. 
But since it seems certain and fixed even in our OAvn body, in 
what part the soul and the mind may subsist and grow up by 
themselves, it is so much the rather to be denied that they can 

' As a tree cannot exist in tlie sky, Sfc] Ver. 129. Sicut in <sther» 
iwn arbor, &c. See this passage in book iii. 785, seq. 

B. V. 142— 171. LUCRETILT?. Wj 

exist out of the entire body, and without an animal form, 
whether in the soft clods of earth, or in the fire of the sun, or 
in the water, or in the lofty regions of the air. The heaven- 
ly bodies, therefore, since they cannot be animated with life< 
are not endowed with a divine sense. 

It is not possible, moreover, that you should believe there 
are sacred seats of the gods in any quarters of out world. 
For the nature and substance of the gods, being subtle and far 
removed from our senses, is scarcely apprehended by the power 
of our mind. And since it has hitherto escaped the touch and 
impact of our hands, it can assuredly touch nothing that ia 
tangible by us ; for nothing can touch another body, if it is not 
possible for itself to be touched. For which reason the abodes 
of the gods, also, must be dissimilar to our abodes, as being 
subtle, and correspondent to their own nature.' These points 
I shall hereafter prove to you with abundance of argument. 

To say, moreover, that tlie gods designed to arrange all this 
noble fabric of the world for the sake of men, and therefore 
that we ought to extol it as an honourable achievement of 
the deities, and to believe that it will certainly be eternal 
and imperishable; and to affirm that it is unlawful ever to 
distux'b from its seat, by any force of argument, that which 
was established for the human race by ancient contrivance and 
for perpetual duration, or to shake and displace, though only 
in words, the sum of things from their basis ;^ a7id to feign 
and add other co7iceits of this sort, dear Memmius, is to be 
guilty of the utmost folly ; for what profit can our gratitude 
afford to those who are immortal and blessed in themselves, 
that they should labour to effect any thing for our sake ? Or 
what new incitement could induce those, ivho tvere before 
tranquil, to desire, so long afterwards, to change their former 
mode of life?^ For it would seem that he only, whom old 

' Subtle, and correspondent to their own nature.] Ver. 155. Tenues, 
de corpore eoriim. " The abodes of the gods must be subtle, as con- 
sisting of the same sort of atoms of which the gods themselves con- 
sist." Faber. 

^ Displace the sum of things from their basis.] Ver. 164. Ah 

imo evortera sumnia. Lambinus has summam. If we read siumna, in 
the ace. pi. with Forbiger, it must be considered as equivalent to om- 
nia, cuncta. Lucretius elsewhere uses st(!?i/mcs for totus, as in i. •iO, de 
$ummu cceli ratione. 

' To change their former mode of life.] Ver. 1 70 Vitam niuiare jtri- 
orem. If the life of the gods was happy from the first, why did they 

200 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 172—199. 

things offend, ought to delight in things that are new ; but in 
him to whom no ti'ouble has happened in past time, when he 
spent life happily, what could excite the desire of novelty ? ' 
Or, forsooth, the life of the gods was oppressed with gloom and 
sorrow, until the genial birth of terrestrial things shone forth ? 
Or, again, what evil would it have been to us never to have 
been born ? For whoever is born must eertainhj wish to re- 
main in life, as long as any alluring pleasure shall engage 
him ; but to liim who never tasted the love of life, nor was 
ever in the number of living beings^ what affliction is it not 
to have been born ? 

Moreover, whence was a model or idea for making things, 
and whence was the notion of men themselves, implanted in 
the gods at first, that they should know, and conceive in their 
mind, what they should seek to do ? Or by what means was 
the power of primary-particles known, and what they could 
effect by their change of order and place, if Nature herself did 
not give the first specimens of production ? 

For the primordial atoms of things were driven in so many 
ways by so many impulses, through an infinite duration of 
time, and were accustomed so to be borne and carried forward 
by their own weight, and to meet in all modes, and to try all 
endeavours, as if to ascertain what their combinations might 
generate, that it is not surprising if they fell at last into such 
positions, and acquired such motions, as those bv which this 
universe of things, through perpetual renovation is now car- 
ried on. 

But if I were even ignorant ^ what the primary-elements of 
things are, yet this I could venture to assert, from the scheme 
of the heaven itself, and to support it from many other rea- 
sons, tliat the system of things was by no means prepared for 

produce a world, or -worlds, for the sake of making a change in it? 
Was it merely tliat they niiglit have a new subject on which to 
hestow their attention? But what motive, asks Lucretius, could 
they have for taking such trouble, when they had previously all that 
they wanted for enjoyment 1 

' But in him what could excite the desire of novelty?] 

\'or. 174. Quid pohiit novifatis amorem accendere tali? "Tali ovri, in 
such a being, whether god or man." Faher. 

^ Nor was ever in the number of living beings.] Ver. 181. Nee fiiii 
in nnmero. " Rerum crc^atarum." Faher. 

' But if I were even ignorant, ty.] Ver. lOfi. Quod si jam rerum 
ignore?n, &c. This sentiment he had already advanced, ii. 177, sej. 

B. V. 200—229. LUCRETIUS. 201 

US by divine power , so great is the faultiness with which it 
stands affected. 

In the first place, of all that space which the rapid circum- 
volution of the heaven covers, mountains and woods, the 
abodes of wild beasts, have occupied a vast portion ; ^ rocks, 
and great marshes, and the sea, which widely separates the 
coasts of countries, cover another vast portion. Moreover, 
burning heat, and the constant descent of frost, deprive mor- 
tals of almost two-thirds of what is left. And as to the land 
which yet remains, nature would still, by her own operation, 
cover it with thorns, if human strength did not prevent; which, 
for the sake of a living, is accustomed to groan under the stout 
mattock, and to cut the earth with ploughs urged through it. 
For unless we, turning up the fertile clods with the plough- 
share, and forcing tlie soil, excite it to send forth its pro- 
ductions, they would be unable of themselves to rise into 
the liquid air. And yet at times, when all things, procured 
with so great labour, are green and flourish over the earth, 
either the sun in the heavens burns them up with violent heat, 
or sudden showers and cold frosts destroy them, or blasts of 
winds, with violent hurricanes, tear them to pieces. 

Besides, why does nature cherish and increase, by land and 
by sea, a terrible brood of wild beasts and monsters, hostile to 
the human race ? Why do the seasons of the year bring dis- 
eases ? Why does untimely death wander abroad ? 

Moreover, an infant, as soon as nature, with great efforts, 
has sent it fortli from the womb of its mother into the regions 
of light, lies, like a sailor cast out from the waves, in want of 
every kind of vital support ; and fills the parts around with 
mournful wailings, as is natural for one by whom so much 
evil in life remains to be undergone. But the various sorts of 
cattle, herds, and wild beasts, grow up with ease; they have 

' Vast poi'tion.] V^er. 202. Avulam partem. " Avidus for vast; 
since what is greedy requires what is vast." Gifanhis. The reader 
may take this for an explanation if he pleases. The soundness of 
the reading is doubtful. Lachmann gives, from coiiject»u-e, aliquam 

" A part how small of the terraqueous globe 
Is tenanted by man ! The rest a waste, 
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands, 
Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death! 
Such is earth's melancholy map!" 

Young's Night Thoughts, i. 

202 LUCRETIUS. B. v. 230-2.58. 

no need of rattles or other toys; nor is the fond and broken 
voice of the nurse' necessary to be used to one of them. Nor 
do they require different dresses according to the season of 
the year ; nor, besides, have they any need of arms, or high 
walls, with which they may defend their property, since the 
earth herself, and Nature, the artificer of things, produce all 
supplies for all in abundance. 

Above all, since the body of the earth, and the water, and 
the light breezes of the winds, and the warm heat, of Avhich 
this Sum of Things seems to be constituted, consist wholly of 
generated and dissoluble substance, tlie whole frame of the 
world must be considered to be of a similar nature.^ For of 
whatever creatures, in mortal shapes, we see the parts and 
members to be of a generated consistence, we observe, in 
general, these same creatures to be themselves both generated 
and mortal. For which reason, when I see the four ele?nefits^ 
the vast members and divisions of the world, wasted and re- 
])roduced, I may conclude that there was also a time when the 
heaven and earth had a beginning, and that there will be a 
time for their destruction. 

On these points, do not imagine, my Memmius, that I have 
assumed any thing too hastily, in supposing earth and fire to 
be perishable ; in not doubting that water and air waste 
away ; and in saying that the same elements are again pro- 
duced and augmented. In the first place, some part of the 
earth, parched with the constant heat of the sun, and tram- 
pled with the perpetual action of feet, exhales mists and fly- 
ing clouds of dust, which strong winds disperse through the 
whole air; part also of the clods is washed off by showers,' 
while rivers, as they strike against their banks, wear them 
away. Besides, whatever body increases another, is, on its 

' Fond and broken voice of the nurse.] Ver. 231- Blandaatque 
infracta loquela. " Broken, because parents and nurses are accus- 
tomed to use half words, not whole ones, to children." Lamhimts, 

'^ The whole frame of the world must be considered to be of a 
similar natiu-e.] \'cr. 210. Debet ehdem omnis mundl natura pittari. 
" Eadem via," says Wakefiekl, tliat is, in the same way, or by the 
same rule. Lanibinus reads Debet tola eadem inundi natura putari, 
which is easier to be imderstood. A little below, in "both gener- 
ated and mortal," {mortalia et 7iativa siinul,) I have transposed the 

* Is washed off by showers.] Ver. 256. Ad diluvicm revocatur Im- 
bribus. " Is turned into water," Creech. 


B. V. 259 -280. LUCRETIUS. 203 

own part, diminished ; and since tlie earth, which is the 
parent of all things, seems, without doubt, to be the common 
sepulchre of all things ; the earth, therefore, you may be as- 
sured, is wasted, and is recruited and grows again. 

Further, there is no need of words to show that the sea, 
rivers, and fountains abound with new liquid, and that waters 
flow incessantly into the ocean; for the vast deflux of streams 
from all sides declares it ; but %ve must observe, above all 
things, that a certain portion of the water is carried off, and 
that it happens at last that there is no superabundance ' of 
water ; for first that part is removed which the strong winds, 
sweeping the ocean, and the ethereal sun, dispelling it with 
his rays, subtract /row its surface; and next that part which 
is distributed through all the earth underneath. For the salt 
is sti'ained off in its passage through the ground, and the sub- 
stance of the water flows back, and all meets, here and there, 
at the sources of rivers ; whence it flows, in a fresh stream, 
over the earth, wherever a passage, once cut, has borne 
along the waters in their liquid course.^ 

I shall now, therefore, observe concerning the air, that it 
is changed,' every hour, in innumerable ways. For whatever 
is perpetually passing off from bodies, is all carried into the 
vast ocean of air ; and unless it were to restore particles back 
to those bodies, and to recruit them as their substance passes 
away, all things would by this time have been dissolved and 
converted into air. It accordingly does not cease to be per- 

' That a certain portion of the water is carried oiF, and that it 
happens, at last, that there is no superabundance, <Sfc.] Ver. 265. 

Quicquid aquai 
Tollitur, in summaque fit ut nihil humor abundet. 
Quicqzdd is for quidque, as Lambinus and Creech expound it. In 
summa, says Wakefield, is " tandem, denique, post eventus omnes." 
^ Wherever a passage, once cut, has borne along the waters in 
their liquid course.] Ver. 273. 

Qua via secta semel liquido pede dctulit undas. 
Lambinus notices the easy flow of this verse, and observes how well 
it is adapted to the subject. Lucretius repeats it, vi. 639. We may 
compare with it a line of Cowley, called by Johnson an " example 
of representative versification which perhaps no other English line 
can equal." 

Which runs, and as it runs, for ever shall run on. 
' That it is changed."] Ver. 274. Quid—mufatur—"QuaUter, how." 

204 LUCRETIUS. 11. V, 281—311 

petuaUy generated from bodies, and perpetually to return 
l)ack to bodies ; since it is agreed that all things are in con- 
stant flux. 

The ethereal sun, too, the great fountain of liquid light, 
floods the heaven perpetually with new brightness, and in- 
stantly supplies with a new ray the place of the ray that has 
passed off. For whatever brightness it first sends forth, is, 
wherever it falls, lost to it. This you may collect from hence, 
that as soon as clouds have begun to come over the sun, and, 
as it were, to break through the rays of light, all the lower 
part of these rays is immediately lost, and the earth, wherever 
the clouds pass, is overshadowed ; so that you may understand 
that things constantly require a fresh supply of light, and 
that every first emission of radiance is dispersed ; nor could 
objects otherwise be seen in the sunshine, unless the fountain 
of light itself furnished a perpetual supply. 

Even your nocturnal torches, which are things of earth, 
your hanging lamps, and tapers, brilliant with waving flames, 
and shoioing themselves fat with abundance of smoke, are im- 
pelled,' in a similar manner, by the agency of heat, to emit 
new radiance ; they incessantly discharge their tremulous 
rays ;^ they never cease ; nor does the light, as if broken off, 
leave the place dark. So swiftly is the destruction of that 
flame hastened from all its rays, through the rapid origination 
a7id emission of new particles. Thus, too, we must suppose 
tliat the sun, and moon, and stars throw off their light through 
successive generations of beams,^ and perpetually lose what- 
ever rays are first to pass from them; so that you must not 
by any means suppose that tliese bodies maintain imperisliable 

Do you not see, moreover, that even stones are overcome 
by time ? Do you not observe that lofty towers fall, and that 
rocks decay ? Do you not notice that the temples and images 
of the gods, overcome with age, open in fissures ; and that the 
sacred deities themselves cannot extend the limits of fate, or 
struggle against the laws of nature ? 

' Are impelled.] Ver. 298. Pmperant. 

^ They incessantly discharge their tremulous rays.] Ver. 299. 
Tremere ignibus instant. " Tremulos radios spargimt." Creech. 

' Througli successive generations of iea;ws.] Ver. 30-t. Ex alio 
ttque alio suhortu. The sense is evident. 

B. V. 312—331 LUCRETIUS. 205 

Besides, do we not see that the monuments of heroes fall ? 
You might even believe that they desire for themselves a time 
to grow ohU Do we not observe that flints crumble from the 
lofty mountains, and cannot endure and withstand the powerful 
force of eve7i a finite age ? For if they were bodies which, 
through infinite ages, had sustained all the assaults of time, and 
continued exempt from dissolution, they would not now sud- 
denly be broken away and fall to pieces. 

Further, contemplate this heaven around and above us, 
which contains all the earth in its embrace ; it produces, as 
some say, all things from itself, and receives all things, when 
dissolved, into itself. But it ivas a generated body, and con- 
sists wholly of perishable substance. For whatever increases 
and nourishes other things from itself, must by that means be 
diminished, and must be recruited by receiving^ into itself 
fresh substances. 

In addition, if there was no origin of the heavens and earth 
from generation, and if they existed from all eternity, how is 
it that other poets, before the time of the Theban war, and the 
destruction of Troy, have not also sung of otiier exploits of 
the inhabitants of earth ' How have the actions of so many 
men thus from time to time fallen into oblivion? Hoiv is it 
that they no where survive in remembrance, and are no where 
stamped on everlasting monuments of fame? 

But, as I am of opinion, the whole of the world is of com- 
paratively modern date, and recent in its origin ; and had its 

_ * You might even believe that they desire for themselves a 
time to grow old.] Ver. 314. Queerere proporro sibi quomque setiescere 
credos, Senescere, " to grow old," quomque, " at some time or other." 
Cunque, as in Horace, (Od. i. 32, 15,) Mihi cunque solve Bite precanti. 
Wakefield interprets it quocnnqne tnodo : " Credas — dato quasi studio 
ad senectutem properantev contendere, quocunque tand<^m modo." 
But it seems better to understand it of time than ofmrmner; for the 
mode in which buildings decay has been expressed fovu- lines above. 
Proporro I join with credas, in the sense of porro, praterea, etiam, 
Lambinus read, from conjecture, Cedere proporro, subitoque senescere 
casu. Lachmann, also from conjecture, gives Quce fore jn-oporro veti- 
tumque senescere credas, and alters the passage in Horace to medictitn- 
que salve Rite vocanti. The verse of Horace is probal)ly faulty, (for, 
as Bentley observes, there is no example to support it,) but v/hether 
Lachmann has found the right method of amending it, may be 

"^ By receiving, <.Vc.] Ver. 324. Qmim recipit res. Creech inter- 
prets "cum istasres dissolutas recipit." 

206 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 332—357. 

beginning but a sl)ort time ago. From which cause, also, some 
arts are but now being refined, and are even at present on the 
increase ; many improvements are in this age added to s})ips ; 
musicians have but recently produced melodious sounds. This 
nature and system of the world, too, of lohich Iicrite, has been 
but lately discovered ; and I myself, among the first discover- 
ers, have been found the first poe^' that could express it in 
the language of my country. 

But if, perchance, you suppose that all these arts'^ formerly 
existed the same as at present, but that generations of men have 
perished by burning fire, or that cities have fallen by some 
great catastrophe of the world, or that violent rivers, through 
continual rains, have inundated the earth, and overwhelmed 
cities, you must so much the more, being convinced by these 
facts^ admit that there will probably be also a destruction of 
the earth and tlie heaven. For, since things were affected and 
shahen by so great disorders, and so great dangers, if a more 
serious cause had then pressed upon them, they might univers- 
ally have suffered destruction and mighty ruin. Nor do we, 
who now live, appear to be mortal one like another, by any 
other inference than that we sicken with diseases similarly'* 
to those whom nature has removed from life. 

Further, whatsoever bodies remain eternal,'^ must either, as 
being of a solid consistence, repel assaults, and suffer nothing 
to penetrate them that can disunite their compact parts 
within ; {such as are the primary-particles of matter, the na- 
ture of which we have already shown ;) or they must be able 

- Among the first discoverers, have been found the first poet, ^c] 
^'er. 337. Primus cum primis ipse repertus. Wakefield gives this 
comment : " His primis reruni repertoribus ego qiioque sum reper- 
tor annumerandus." '^'\i\\ pritmis 1 understand ;joeto. 

* All these arts.'l Ver. 339. I have adopted arts from Creech. 
^ So niucli the more, being convinced by these facts, cSc] Ver. 344. 

Tanto quique mar/is victus fateare necesse est. Quique is Wakefield's read- ( 

ing, and stands, he says, " according to the practice of good writers," I I 

for quisquis or quicunque. As it could only be rendered in English ' 

by whoever you are, or some such awkward phrase, I have left it out. 
Other editions, except Laclimann, have quippe. 

* Sicken with diseases similarly, ^^.] Ver. 350. Morbis agrescimus 
idem Atque olli, *«., i. e. we the same sicken with diseases, Sjc. Lambinus 
readi morbis — isr/em. 

' Further, whatsoever bodies remain eternal, *c.] Ver. 352. 
Twenty-three verses are here repeated from iii. S07, seq. 



B. V. 358— 384. LUCRETIUS. 207 

to endure throughout all time, because they are exempt from 
assaults, or unsusceptible of them; (as is a vacuum, which re- 
mains intangible, and suffers nothing from impact ;) or they 
must be indestructible for this reason, that tliere is no suffici- 
ency of space round about, into which substances may, as it 
were, separate and be dissolved (as the entire universe is 
eternal, inasmuch as there is neitlier any space without it, 
into which its parts may disperse ; nor are there any bodies 
which may fall upon it, and break it to pieces by violent con- 
cussion). But, as I have demonstrated, neither is the nature 
of this world of a solid consistence, since in all compound 
bodies vacuity is mixed ; nor is it like vacuity itself; nor, 
again, are bodies wanting, which, rising fortuitously from the 
infinite of space, may overthrow the sum of things with 
a violent tempest, or bring upon it some other kind, whatever 
it may he, of disaster and danger ; nor, moreover, is vastness 
and profundity of space wanting, into which the walls of the 
world may be scattered, or, assaulted by some other kind of 
force, may be dissolved. The gate of death, therefore, is not 
closed to the heaven, or to the sun, or to the earth, or to the 
deep waters of tlie sea, but stands open, and looks back for 
them, with a mighty and huge abyss. 

For which reason, since these existing things are dissohible, 
you must necessarily allow that they are generated of indisso- 
luble elements; for bodies which are of mortal consistence, 
could not have been able, from all eternity, to contemn till 
now the strong assaults of infinite time. 

Furthermore, since the great divisions of the world ' are per- 
petually contending, and are stirred up in implacable warfare 
against each other, do you not see that some end to their 
long contest may be assigned ? And this end may take place, 
either when the sun, and heat in general, having drunk up all 

' The great divisions of tlie workl.] Ver. 381. Maxima rmmdi 
membra. Fire and water. " Many philosophers imagine that the 
elenients themselves may be in time exhausted ; that the sun, by 
shining long, v,-ill effuse all its light; and that by the continual 
waste of aqueous particles, the whole earth will at last become a 
sandy desert. I v/ould not advise my readers to disturb themselves 
by contriving how they shall live without hght and water. For the 
days of universal thirst and perpetual darkness are at«a great dis- 
tance. _ The ocean and the sun will last our time, and we may leave 
posterity to shift for themselves," Johnson, Idler, No, 3. 

208 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 385-419 

the moisture, shall have become supreme ; a consummation, iri' 
deed, which they endeavour to effect, but cannot yet aecom- 
jilisli their designs; so much do rivers supply, and so con- 
stanthf do the loaters tlireaten, even of their own power, to 
deluge all tilings from the deep gulf of the ; {hut their 
threats are vain ; for winds, sweeping the floods, and the ethe- 
real sun, dispelling them with his rays, diminish their bulk, 
and seem to trust that they can dry up all things before the 
waters can attain the completion of their design ;) maintain- 
ing so great a war, they persist to strive with one another for 
their great objects, and to contend, as it seems, with equal 
efforts ; though, as is reported, fire was once superior on the 
earth, and water once reigngd triumphant over the plains. 

For fire prevailed, and burnt and consumed many parts, 
when the erring and impetuous fury of the sun's horses hur- 
ried Phaethon through the whole heaven and over the entire 
eartli. But the omnipotent Father, incensed with fierce rage, 
hurled Phaethon from his chariot to the earth by the sudden 
stroke of a thunderbolt ; and the Sun, meeting him as he fell, 
caught up the eternal lamp of the world, brought back his 
scattered horses, and yoked them trembling to the car; 
and, guiding them in their own path, restored and re-organ' 
ized all things. This, you must be aware, is the story which 
the poets of the Greeks sung, htit which is too far removed 
from truth and reason. For fire may have the superiority, 
when more atoms than usual of igneous matter have collected 
from the infinite of space; but afterwards its strength, being by 
some means repressed, necessarily subsides ; else all things, 
burned up by a scorching atmosphere, loould utterly perish. 

Once, too, as tradition tells, water having-risen-in-a-body,' 
began to have the mastery ; at which period it overwhelmed 
numbers of mankind with its waves ; but subsequently, when 
its strength, (which had risen from the infinite profound,) was 
in some way turned aside and repelled, the rains came to a 
stand, and the rivers diminished their violence. 

But I shall now proceed to relate, in due course, how the 
combination of matter ^ established the heaven and the earth, 
the depths of the sea, and the revolutions of the sun and moon. 

• Once, too, — water having risen-in-a-body, 4rc.] Ver. 412. Humot 

item quondam cocpit superare coortus. Alluding to the flood of Deucalion. 

^ But how the combination of matter, Sfc.l Ver. 417. Sed 

B. V. 420—447. LUCRETIUS. 209 

For assuredly neither the primary elements of thinjis dis- 
posed themselves severally in their own order by tvisdom or 
counsel arising from a sagacious understanding ; nor, certainly, 
did they agree among themselves what motions each should 
produce ; but because the primordial atoms of the world, being 
many, were agitated by concussions, in many ways, through 
an infinite space of time, and Avere accustomed to be carried 
forward by their own weights, and to combine in all modes, 
and to try all efforts, as if to ascertain whichsoever of them, 
meeting together, might give birth to some offspring, it from 
this cause happens that, being spread abroad during a vast 
period of duration, and attempting all kinds of combinations 
and movements, those at length came together, which, having 
suddenly coalesced, became at first, and become now, from 
time to time, the commencements of great productions,' the 
origin of the earth, the sea, and the heaven, and of every kind 
of living creatures. 

Here, at that time, could be seen neither the chariot of the 
sun, flying on high with its abundant light, nor the stars of the 
great firmament, nor the sea, nor the heaven, nor the earth, 
nor the air; nor could any thing be discerned similar to our 
present objects, but only a certain crude agitation of matter, 
and a congeries swelling up together. Afterwards the parts 
began to separate ; and similar things Af^cw to be united Avith 
similar, and to evolve the world, and display its parts, and 
arrange its different members, which tvere generated from all 
kinds of primordial atoms ; whose intervals, courses, con- 
nexions, weights, impulses, combinations, and motions, Dis- 
cord, exciting war amongst them, (from the disagreement of 
their forms and the variety of their shapes,) had disturbed ; 
on which account they could not remain all so united, or pro- 
duce such suitable motions among themselves, as should lead 
to the objects which they were to effect; that is, to divide the 

quibus illemodis coiijectus materidi, &c. " He now proceeds to explain 
how the world was formed from atoms, which move without design, 
and without any certain law. This account of the formation of the 
world, and its various parts, corresponds almost exactly with that 
which is stated hy Plutarch [respecting the doctrines of Epicurus] 
in his first book de Flacitis Philosophonim." Lambhms. 

' Become now, from time to time-, the commencements of great 
productions.] Ver. 431. Maguarum rerum fiunt exordia sape. . .iitve 
rendered sape "from time to time." Faber read nempe. 


210 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 448— 478. 

liitrli lieaveti from the eartli, aiid to cause that the sea and 
other water should spread abroad separately, and that the stars 
of lieavcn should shine by themselves pure and distinct. 

For, in the first place, the several atoms of" earth, because 
they were heavy, and involved one with another, met all to- 
gether in the middle, and took, as it tcere, the lowest place;' 
wliich afomSf the more closely they cohered, the more effectu- 
ally they excluded /rom themselves tliose particles wliich were 
to form the sea, the stars, the sun and the moon, and the walls 
of this great world. For all these latter parts of nature con- 
sist of more smooth and round particles, and of atoms much 
more diminutive, than the earth ; and, accordingly, the fiery 
.tither, bursting forth from -tlie several }^^x\.%, through the small 
pores of tlie earth, first I'aised itself on high, and, being light, 
carried with it much fire ; by a process similar to what we 
often witness, when, in the morning, the golden rays of the 
beaming sun first blush over the grass gemmed with dew, 
and xohen the stagnant lakes, and ever-flowing rivers, exhale 
a mist, and earth itself sometimes appears to smoke ; all which 
vapours, when they are united in the height above us, cover 
the heaven in an apparently/ condensed body. So, too, at 
that time, the light and expanded ether, diffused around in a 
united mass, collected itself; and thus, being widely extended 
in every direction, enclosed all other things in its vast embrace.^ 

To thhj'ormation of the ether succeeded tlie rise of the sun 
and moon, and of those bodies whose orbs revolve in the air 
between both ; bodies which neither the earth nor the vast 
ether attracted to itself, because they were neither so heavy 
as to sink down to the earth, nor so light as to glide in the 
highest regions ; and yet they so exist between both, that they 
revolve as active bodies,^ and are a part of the entire world. 

' Met all tof^ether in the middle, and took, as it were, the lowest 
place. J Ver. 452. Coihant In medio atque imas capiebant omnia sedes. 

Met and sunk down in the middle, which is the lowest place." 
Lambimis. But how it happened that the atoms found a spot in which 
they inisht settle as a centre or lowest place, when he had previously 
asserted (i. \070, seg.) tliat all bodies must alike be carried forwards 
throuirh all parts of s])ace, Lucretius does not explain. Ovid, in 
his account of the Ibvniation of the worhl, omits all allusion to a 
centre from which that formation coninienced. 

" Vast embrace.] Ver. 471. Avido complexu. Conip. ver. 202. 

* Active bodies.] Ver. 477. Coiyora viva. In giving this sense 
to rif«, 1 f'dlow Lambinus. 

B. V. 479— 509. LUCRETIUS. 211 

As, in our own bodies, some members may remain at rest, 
whilst others are still in motion. 

These substances, therefore, being withdrawn, the earth, 
where the vast blue region of the sea now spreads, suddenly 
sunk down, and hollowed out depths by means of the salt 
flood; and in proportion as, day after day, the sui'rounding 
tide of air, and the warm rays of the sun, urged the eartli 
(lying exposed even to its extreme bounds) with frequent im- 
pulses, so that, being thus acted upon, it might collect in con- 
densation towards its own centre, so much the more the salt 
fluid, pressed out from its body, increased with its flood the 
sea and the liquid plains ; and so much more the numerous 
particles of heat and air, escaping loxiXxfrom other substances, 
flew upicards, and formed, afar from the earth, the lofty and 
shining temples of the sky. The plains sunk down, and the 
slopes of the high mountains increased ; for such inequality loas 
inevitable; a* the rocks could neither subside, nor could all 
parts of the ground settle to the same level. Thus, then, the 
heavy-mass of the earth, with condensed bulk, stood firm ; 
and all the heavy grossness of the world, as it were, collected 
to the bottom, and sunk down like dregs into the deep. 

Then the sea, the air, and the fiery ether itself, which 2vere 
of liquid consistence, were all left pure; and of these bodie< 
some were lighter than others, and the ether, being of the 
greatest subtlety and levity, floats above the breezes of the 
air, nor allows its clear substance to mingle with the matters 
that disturb the aerial regions ; it leaves all these lower 'parts 
to be swept with violent whirlwinds ; it leaves them to be 
disturbed with tumultuous storms ; xohilst itself, gliding with 
settled impulse, bears along its own fires. For that the ether 
may revolve ilnis steadily, and with uniform tenor, the flood 
in the Euxine shows,' which moves with a settled flux, pre- 
serving one unvaried direction in its course. 

' The flood in the Euxine shows.] Ver. 508. Significnt Ponto 
mare. Mare Ponto, for mare Ponti, says Wakefield ; for in Ponio, 
says Forbiger. " That the ether may glide perpetually onwards, lie 
seeks to prove from the constant flow of the Pontiis Euxiniis into 
the Thracian Bosphovus, the Propontis, and the Hellespont, with- 
out any reflux." Faber. Wakefield aptly cites Seneca, Nat. QucEst. 
iv. 2. " The Pontus flows ra])idly and constantly into the sea below: 
not, like other seas, with tides alternating in opposite directions, 
but with a current always rimning strongly in the same course." 

212 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 510—533. 

Let us now state what is the cause of the motion of the 
stars. In tlie first place, if the great orb of lieaven whirls 
round, we must admit tlsat air i)resses aiid urges the sky on 
either side, and confines it externally, and encloses it in each 
direction ; then tliat another hodi/ of air flows over our heads, 
and tends in the same direction in which the bright stars of 
the eternul world roll ; ' and that there is still other air beneath 
ourfeet^ wliich carries along the heaven in the opposite direc- 
tion, as w^ S'-e running streams turn wheels and buckets. 

It is likewise possible that the wliole heaven may remain 
stationary, though the bright con.stellations are nevertheless 
borne alonir ; whether because active tides of ether are con- 
fined icithii: the sky, and, Peeking an outlet, whirl themselves 
round, and roll with them the stars through the vast regions 
of heaven ; or whether air, flowing from som.e quarter with- 
out, wheels and impels the stars ; or whether they of them- 
selves can move forward, whitlier the sustenance of each 
attracts^ and invites them, while pursuing their course, and re- 
cruiting their igneous substances every wliere throughout the 
heavens. For which of these causes prevails in this world, it 
is difficult to lay down as certain ; but I demonstrate only what 
is possible, and may be effected, throughout the universe, in 
various worlds, formed in various ways,"* and .seek to assign 
several causes for the motions of the stars ; which causes may 
operate, in different parts, through the whole of things; but 
of which one must necessarily be this very cause, that produces 
motion in our stars ; though to decide which of them it is, i3 

' In wliich the bright stars of the eternal world roll.] Ver. 515. 
Quo voJcmida micant (vtertii sidera mundi. He uses the word eternal as 
a poet, not a.s a ])liilosopher. 

* Beneatli "Hr/e(?<. ] Ver. 516. Subter. " Sub terrS, et sub pedibus 
nostris" Lamhinus. See below, ver. 636, seq. 

' Whither the sustenance of each attracts, <Src.] Ver. 525. Quo 
cujusquc cihus xocat atque invitat. " Some other philosophers, besides 
Epicurus, thousrht that the sun, and the other celestial bodies, were 
ted by the vapours arising from the sea and the earth. See Cic. de 
Nat. Deor. lib. ii. Vii-g. yEn. i. 612, Polus duni sidera pascet." Lam- 
btnus, ad i. 232. " This was a notion, not onlj- of Epicurus, but of the 
Stoics. See Plutarcli de Placit. Philosoph. And j-ou will tind in- 
dications of this opinion even before the age of Zeno." Faber, ibid. 

* In various worlds, formed in various ways.] \^er. 529. In varii* 
tnundis, varid ratione creatis. Tiuit there are more worlds than ours, 
he shows to be probable, ii. 1052, seq. 

B. T. 534— o54. LUCRETIUS. 213 

by no means the part of a man proceeding, like my<elf, cau- 
iionsJy, and step by step. 

And that the earth may rest in the middle^ part of tlie 
world, it is necessary that its Aveight should gradually, as it 
toere, become evanescent and imperceptible,'^ and that it should 
have another substance beneath it, united with it from its 
earliest age, and closely connected with the aerial parts of the 
world, in whicli it was produced and continues to live. TIte 
earth is, therefore, no burden to the air, nor at all depresses it ; 
just as his limbs are no burden to a man ; artdj?ist as the head 
is no burden to the neck ; nor do we feel the whole weight of 
the body press upon the feet. But whatever weights fall upon 
us, and are laid upon us, externally, hurt or annoy tcs, although 
they are often far less than those which are tcithin ns; of so great 
importance it is to understand what one thing can effect hy 
union with another. The earth, accordingly, was not brought 
into this world suddenly, as a foreign body, and cast, from some 
other quarter, upon air that ivas strange to it, but was produced 
together with the rest of the world, and as a regular part of it, at 
its first origin; just as our members are seen to be formed 
with us. 

Besides, the earth, when shaken with violent thunder, imrae- 
diatelj' shakes all things which are above it with its motion ; 
an effect which it could by no means produce, unless it were 
combined with the aerial parts of the world, and with the 

' And that the earth may rest in the middle, <^e.] Ver. 535. 
Terraque ut in media nmndi regione quieseat, &c. " It may reasonably 
be asked how the earth, when Lucretius so often speaks of its weight, 
can remain in the middle of the air ; and why it does not leave its 
position, and sink into the infinite void. To this the poet answers, 
that though the air alone surrounds the earth, yet that, as the earth 
and air are closely connected, and have been from their origin parts 
of the same whole, the earth is in consequence no burden to the air, 
hut rests upon it as if all its gravitj^ were laid aside. But the case 
would be otherwise if the earth had been brought into this world 
IVoni another ; for then its weight would be felt by the air as that of 
a foreign body ; as we, in regard to our own bodies, feel even a 
small substance that lies upon them externally, though neither the 
head, nor the other members of the body, are a burden to one an- 
other; inasmuch as they are congeneous, and bound by a common 
law of connexion. Epicurus, in his Epistle to Herodotus, says, r^v 
yfjv ri^ 'Atpi tTTOxela^ai w^ avyyevfi." Creech. 

2 Become evanescent and imperceptible.] Ver. 53G- Evanescere — 
et decrescere. 


B. V. 555-582. 

heaven ; for they cohere by common connexions one with the 
oilier, conjoined, and coalescing in union, from the earliest 

Do you not observe, also, how exquisitely subtle a sub- 
stance of the soul sustains the body, which is of great weight, 
simph/ because it is so closely united and combined with it? 
What power, too, but that of the soul, which governs the limbs, 
can raise the body with a vigorous leapyro/w the grnmid? 

Do you now understand how much force a subtle sub- 
stance may have, when it is united with a heavy body, as the 
air is joined with the earth, and the power of the soul with 
ourselves ? 

Nor can the circumference of the sun be much greater, or 
its fire less,' than it appears to our senses. For from what- 
ever distances fires can tlirow their rays, and cast a warm 
heat upon our bodies, the ejection of the heat from those dis- 
tances detracts nothing from the bulk of the igneous matter, 
a7id the fire is not at all more contracted to the view. Since, 
therefore, the heat of the sun, and its effused light, reach to 
our senses, and the parts abotit us shine with its rays, the 
form and outline of the sun must, on this account, appear as 
it really is, so that you can add nothing more to it, or make it 

And the moon, whether, as she glides through the shy, she illu- 
minates its regions with a borrowed light, or whether she sends 
forth radiance from her own body ; whichsoever is the case, 
she is, as she pursues her course, of no larger a dimension ^ than 
she appears to our eyes as we observe her. For all objects 
which, being far remote from us, we view through a large 
body of air, look confused in their appearance, before their out- 
line seems at all diminished. For which reason the moon, 
since it presents a clear shape and defined outline, (as it does 

' Nor can tho circumference of the sun be much greater, or its 
fire less, <^-c.] Ver. 567. ^ec 7iiinio solis major rota, 7iec minor ardor 
esse potest. All that is meant is, that the sun cannot be much 
greater or much less than it appears to us. " An irrational and ab- 
surd opinion of Epicurus," says Lambinus. 

= She «— -of no larger a dimension, 4rc.] Ver. 578. NihUo ferttir 
majore figura, Quam nostris ocuUs, qua cernimns, esse videtvr. The or- 
der and construction, says Wakefield, is this ; " Fertur figura nihilo 
majore, quam ca Jigura, qua earn cernimus figura, videtur esse nos- 
tris oculis." 

B.v. 583-611. LUCRETIUS. 215 

whenever its outmost edges ' are observed,) must hence appear 
to us in the sky just as hxrge as it is.^ 

Further, whatsoever stars in the heavens you view from 
hence, can, assuredly, be only very little less, or only very little 
larger,^ than they appear ; since of whatsoever tires we see 
on the earth, even whilst the motion of their light is plain, and 
their glow is clearly perceived, the outline seems at times to 
vary in one way or other, contracting or expanding, according 
as it is more or less distant. 

It is not, moreover, a matter of wonder, how so small a 
body as the sun can emit so large a quantity of light, as to 
cover with its flood the seas, the whole earth, and the heavens, 
and to pervade all things with its quickening heat. Since it 
is possible that one fountain of the light of the whole world, 
opened from hence, may flow forth abundantly, and scatter its 
radiance abroad ;* because the atoms of heat, we may suppose, 
so meet together here from all parts of the W'orld, and their 
assemblage forms such a flood, that all this heat may flow 
xrom one source. For do you not observe, too, how small a 
spring of water sometimes irrigates the meadows far and wide, 
and flows exuberantly over the fields ? 

It is also possible that heat may pervade the air with a 
strong glow from no very great fire in the sun, if, perchance, 
the air be so tempered and disposed as to be excited to warmth, 
though affected with but gentle fervour ; as we sometimes see 
fire, from one spark, spread in all directions among corn-fields 
and straw. 

And, perhaps, the sun, shining on high with its rosy light, 
contains about it much heat in secret stores-of-fire, Avhich, 
though it be distinguished by no brightness, yet, retaining a 

• As it does whenever its outmost edges, <5,c.] Ver. 583. Ut est oris 
extremis qiwrnque notata — i. e. whenever it is noted as to its outmost 

^ Just as large as it is.] Ver. 584. Quantaque quanta est, hinc nobis 
videatvr, iti alto. There are various readings of this passage. Tlie 
present, which is Eichstadt's, cannot, though adopted by Forbiger, 
and even Lachmann, be right ; for what is the use of tb.e qtie ? Lam- 
binus reads. Quanta quoque hcec fuvat, tanta hinc vidcatur in alto. Fu- 
vat for sit or ficerit ; which Preigerus approves. 

' Otily very little larger.] Ver. 591. Exigua majores parte brevique. 

* Scatter its radiance abroad.] Ver. 597. Erumpere lumen. " Erum- 
pere," with an active signification. 

216 LUCRETIUS. II. V. 612— 638. 

glow, increases tlie force of the rays to sucb a degree as toe 

Nor does the law of the sun's motion appear plain and evi- 
dent, nor is it demonstrable how he passes from his summer 
regions to the wintry part of his course in Capricorn, and 
how, coming back from thence, he turns to the solstitial 
points ; nor do we understand hoio the moon seems to traverse 
that space in each month, in passing through which the sun 
occupies the period of a year ; a plain reason, I say, has not 
been assigned for these phasnomena. 

For, in the first place, that appears possible which the ven- 
erable opinion of the philosopher Democritus asserts ; that 
the nearer each of the. heavenly bodies is to the earth, the 
less siviftl// can they be carried round by the revolution of 
the heaven ; since the rapid and strong force of the upper 
sky decreases and loses its power beneath ; and that, accord- 
ingly, the sun, with the loiver constellations following it,^ is 
gradually left behind, because it is much beneath the fiery 
signs ;2 also that tlie moon, from this same cause, falls back so 
much the more, for the more distant its course, being lower, 
is from the heaven, and approaches to the earth, the less can 
it exert its swiftness Avith the signs. Since the more gentle 
is the speed with tvhich the moon, being loAver than the sun, 
is borne along, tlie more easili/ all the signs around overtake 
it, and are carried past it. Hence it happens, that the moon 
seems to return more quickly to each sign, because the signs 
return towards it. 

It is possible, also, that two currents of air, at a certain 
season, may blow in turns ^ from opposite quarters of the 
world ; of which currents 07ie may be that which drives the sun 

' With the loioer constellations following it.'] Ver, 626. Cum pos- 
terinrihtis sic/yiis. " Cum signis sequentibus." Creech. 

- Fiery signs.] Ver. 627. Fervida signa : which Creech interprets 
" summa signa." 

whence the sun 

And solar satellites must more and more 

Be backwards left, deserted, since full deep 

Lie they beneath the blue ethereal fires. Good. 

' Two currents of air, — may blow in turns, &c.'] Ver. 636. Aer 
Alternis certo fluere alter tempore possit. Aer alter for dtio or bini aires. 
" Duos acres lunae solique inservientes introducit." Creech, ad 
ver. 613. 

B. V. 639—668. LUCRETIUS. 217 

from the summer signs into the vernier part of his course, and 
into freezing cold ; and the other may be that-wh.\c\i sends him 
back from the freezing shades of cold into the warm regions 
and glowing constellations. And, in like manner, we may- 
suppose that the moon, and the stars, which revolve for long 
years in vast orbits, may move by means of two currents of 
air in opposite directions. Do you not notice, also, that clouds, 
by means of opposite winds, go in different ways, the lower 
contrary to the upper ? And why, therefore, may not these 
heavenly bodies be borne through the vast circuits of the sky 
by currents opposed to each other ? 

But the reason ivhy night ' covers the earth with its great 
darkness, is either because the light grows loeak when the sun, 
after his long course, has reached the extremity of the heaven, 
and has sent forth his fires languidly, as being exhausted with 
the journey,^ and wasted by passing through a long tract of 
air; or because the same force, which carried the isolar orb 
above the earth, compels it to turn its course beneath the earth. 

Matuta, also, the goddess of the morning, leads forth the rosy 
Aurora, and spreads abroad the light, at a certain hour, either 
because the same sun, which ivas under the earth, returning 
again, aspires to the heaven, proceeding to enlighten it with 
his rays ; or because, at that particular time, bodies of fire 
congregate, and many atoms of heat are accustomed to meet 
in confluence, which cause a new light of the sun to be per- 
petually produced. Thus it is said, that from the lofty hills 
of Ida^ the rays of the sun, Avhen his light rises in the east, are 
seen dispersed, and that they afterwards collect, as it were, 
into one body, and form a complete orb. 

Nor ought it, in such phaenomena, to be a subject of won- 
der, that these atoms of fire can thus flow together, and re- 
new the splendour of the sun, at a certain time. For we 
observe many other things which take place at a certain time 

' But the reason why night, §-c.] Ver. 6i9. He now begins to ex- 
plain the causes of day and night. 

^ Exhausted with the journey.] Ver. 652. Concussositere. 

' Thus — from the lofty hills of Ida, iSrc] Ver. 662. Quod genus Ideeis 
fama est e montibus, Sfc. This pheenomenon is mentioned by Diod. 
Sic. xvii. 7, and bj' Pomponius Mela, de Situ Orbis, v. 6. It was 
probably some atmospheric illusion. Quod genus is for qtiemadtnodum, 
as in several other places. 

218 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 6G0— 702. 

in all flepnvtments of vatiire; the n;rove<? flourish nt a certain 
time, and at a certain time drop their verdure. At a certain 
time, also, age directs the teeth to be shed ; and causes the 
immature youth to bloom with soft down, and to let the flexible 
beard, too, descend from his cheeks. Lightnings, moreover, 
snow, rain, cloudy weather, and winds, take place at seasons 
of the year by no means uncertain. For since the first com- 
mencement of causes thus arose, and the afliiirs of the world 
thus proceeded, as- at present, from their earliest origin, 
every event is a consequence in the unvarying course of 

That the days also increase while the nights grow shorter, 
and that the days are diminished in length when the nights 
become augmented, may possibly happen, either because the 
same sun, revolving below and above the earth, divides the 
regions of the air with unequal curves, and distinguishes the 
orb of heaven into dissimilar parts, while, whatever it has 
taken from one part of it, it adds, as it revolves, just so much 
to the opposite part, until it has come to that sign in the 
heavens where the node of the year^ makes the darkness of 
night equal to the light of day : (for the heaven has tivo sepa- 
rate points, at equal distances, wlrere the courses of the north 
wind and the south meet \'^ owing to the position of the whole 
circle of the zodiac, in which the revolving sun consumes the pe- 
riod of the year, illumining the earth and the sky with oblique 
light, — as the system of those declares who have observed that 
whole region of the heaven which is distinguished by the array 
of the twelve signs:) or, because the air is denser in certain 
parts, the tremulous rays of light are therefore retarded, and 
cannot easily penetrate it and emerge to the dawn ; for which 
reason the nights in the winter delay long, until the bright 
herald of day'' returns: or, again, because, at alternate seasons 
of the year, the atoms of flame, which cause the sun to rise'' in 

' Node of the year.] Ver. 687. Nod^is anni. " He means the 
equinoxes." Faher. 

^ Where the courses — meet.] Ver. 688. Medio cursu /!aius Aqnilonia 
et Aiistri. 

» Herald of day.] Ver. 699. Insigne diet. " The sun." Faber. 

* Cause the sun to rise, c^-r.] Ver. 702. Faciimt solem certu desur- 
gere parte. Or, as Lambinus and others have it, certu de surgere. 1 
wonder that none of the critics have suspected Lucretius to have 
written /«^^ere rather than surgere. 

B. V. 703— 727. LUCRETIUS. 219 

a particular part of the heavens at a particular time, are ac- 
customed to congregate slower or faster. 

As for the moon, she may shine because she is struck with 
the rajs of the sun, and may turn towards us every day a 
larger portion of light in her aspect, as she recedes /</r/^fr 
from the sun's orb, until, being opposite to him, she has shone 
forth with fullest splendour, and, rising on high in the east, has 
beheld his setting in the ivest ; thence, also, retiring back- 
wards, she may, as it were, hide her light gradually, as she 
approaches from the opposite side, along the circle of the 
zodiac, nearer to the sun's radiance ; as those philosophers 
suppose, who make the moon to be in shape like a ball, and to 
pursue her path of revolution beneath the sun ; [and hence 
it happens that they seem to say what is true.]' 

There is also a hypothesis by which the moon may revolve 
and present various phases of brightness, with her own light. 
For it is possible that there may be another body, which moves 
and advances 2 together ivith her, and which in every way ob- 
structs and hinders her light, but nevertheless cannot be seen, 
as it passes along in total darkness. 

And the moon may possibly revolve upon her axis, like a 
balP tinged with shining light only on one side, and may, by 
turning her orb, present to us her various phases. Thus, pro- 
gressively, she turns that part which is illuminated, so as to 
behold us with full aspect and open eye ;■* then, by degrees, 
she turns away and removes from us the brilliant side of her 
orb;'^ as, indeed, the Babylonish doctrine of the Chaldfeans 
taught, which, refuting the method of tlie Greek astrologers, 

' And hence it happens that they seem to say what is true.] 
Ver. 713. Protereafit titi videantur dicere ven»n. This verse, which is 
regarded by Forbiger as suspicious, and enclosed in brackets, might 
very well be spared. 

2 Another body, which moves and advances, ^c.'] Ver. 716. This, 
says Lambinus, was the opinion of Anaximander ; but Creech ob 
serves that there is no proof of his having held such an opinion. 

^ And the tnoon may— revolve— like a ball.] Ver. 719. This was 
the doctrine of Berosus, as is observed by Vitruvius, ix. 4. 

* So as to behold us with full aspect and open eye.] Ver. 723. 
Ad speciem— nobis oculosque patentes. This is translated according to 
Wakefield's interpretation, who says that previous commentators 
had thought that the face and eyes of the spectator were meant. 

^ Of her orb.] Ver. 725. Glomeraynmisatque pilai. As both words 
have the same meaning, I have thought it sufficient to translate one. 

220 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 728—753. 

labours to support this lij/pothesism opposition to it; just as if 
that, for wliicli each contends, might not be true, or as if there 
were any reason wliy you should choose to embrace one 
opinion less than the other. 

Further, when you see so many things produced in a cer- 
tain order, it is difilcult to demonstrate by reason, and to evince 
by argument, why a new moon may not be generated every 
day, with a certain succession of phases and figures, and each 
moon, as it diurnalhj arises, diurnally decay, and another be 
reproduced in its place and station. 

For tlie Spring and Venus begin their course, and the wing- 
ed zephyr, the harbinger of spring, walks before, near whose 
footsteps maternal Flora, preparing the way, covers the whole 
path with richest flowers and perfumes ; next follows scorch- 
ing Summer, and dusty Ceres closely attendant on her, and 
tlie Etesian breezes of the northern winds ;^ tlien succeeds 
Autumn, together loith whom advances Bacchus ; then follow 
other weather and other winds, the loud-resounding soutli-east 
and the south fraught with thunder; at length cold brinss on 
snows, and spreads abroad benumbing chillness, and Winter 
comes after, and frost chattering with his teeth. Since, there- 
fore, so many things may occur at a certain time, it is the less 
surprising if the moon is at a certain time produced, and at a 
certain time decays. 

As for the eclipses of the sun, and occultations of the moon,^ 
you must suppose that tltey may arise from various causes. 
For, {as you perhaps ask,) why should the moon only he thought 
able to shut out the woi'ld from light, and to oppose her high 
head to it on the side of the earth,'* (obtending her dark orb to 

' Etesian breezes of the northern winds.] Ver. 741. Etesia fahra 
Aquilontim. Etesian loinds mean yearhj lomds ; but the tenn was often 
applied by the Greeks to the north winds, which were said to l)low 
annually at the rising of the dog-star. See the commentators on 
Demosthenes, Phil. i. 11. 

^ Occultations of the moon.] Ver. 750. LioKeque latebras. Latehrce 
signifies obscurations or eclipses, as Creech rightly interprets. " He 
now begins to speak of the eclipses of the sun and moon : and first 
of those of the sun." Lamhinns. 

' And to oppose her high bead to it on the side of the earth.] 
Ver. 753. Et a terris altiim caput obstruere ei. " Objicere corpus 
suum supra terras datum," says Creech; but a terris surely means 
on the side of the earth. With ei Lambinus and Creech understand 
toli; I prefer lumini. 

B. T. 754— 777. LUCRETIUS. 221 

the Sim's glowing rays,) and not some other body, ' which may 
always revolve devoid of light, be considered able to produce 
such an effect at the same time ? 

And why, also, may not the sun, at a certain time, send 
forth his radiance languidly, and again renew his splendour, 
when, in his passage through the air, he has passed by certain 
places which, we may suppose, are hurtful to liis beams, and 
which cause his fires to be suppressed and extinguished? 

And why should the earth have power,^ in its turn, to de- 
prive the moon of light, and, passing itself above, to keep the 
sun shut out from her, (while she passes monthly through the 
dense coniform shadow,) and why should not some other body 
be able, at that time, to pass beneath the moon, or to glide 
over the orb of the sun, which body may intercept from her 
his effulgent rays and spreading light? 

And still, if the moon shines herself by her own brightness, 
why may she not grow dim in a certain jiart of the world, 
while she passes through regions noxious to her light? 

For what remains, since I have shown how every tiling may 
occur in the blue sky of our vast world, in order that we 
might understand what power and causes might produce the 
varied course of the sun and the wanderings of the moon, and 
by what means they are accustomed to liave their light ob- 
structed and eclipsed,^ and to spread sudden darkness over the 
earth, (when they shut their eyes, as it were, /or a time, and 
then, having opened them again, cover every fair i-egion with 

' Some other body devoid of light.] Ver. 755. Almd corpus — 

cassum lumine. Compare what he says in reference to the phases of 
the moon, ver. 716, sea. Comp. also ver. 761' — 76(). 

^ And why should the earth have power, ijc] Ver. 761. 
Et quur terra queat lunam spoliare vicissim 
Lumine, et oppressum solem super ipsa tenere, 
Menstrua dum rigidas coni perlabitur imdas. 
"/jtjsa is to be referred to the earth, as the sense of the following 
verses proves." Faber. By coni ■umbras, says Lambinus, is meant 
"the extreme part of the earth's shadow ; though some by the cone 
understand the earth itself; wliich Aristotle (Mt^toJp. hb. ii.) affirms 
to be shaped like a drum, and says that lines drawn from its cer.L „ 
form two cones." Creecli interprets, " rigidam terrae umbram, juae 
est conicae figurae ; " to which interpretation I have adapted my ver- 

' To have their light obstructed and eclipsed.] Ver. 774. O^'cto 
lumine obire. 

222 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 778-804 

shininjT liglit,) I now return to the early age of the world, and 
tlie tender tields of earth, to consider what kind of productions 
they first ventured,' with their new power of ii;eneration, to 
raise into the regions of light, and to commit to uncertain 

In th'i beginning, fhe7i, the earth spread over the hills the 
growth of herbs, and the beauty of verdure, and the flowery 
fields, throughout all regions, shone with a green hue ; and 
then was given, to the various kinds of trees, full power of 
shooting upwards through the air.^ For as feathers, and hairs, 
and bristles, are first produced over the limbs of quadrupeds 
and the bodies of the winged tribes, so the new earth then 
first put fortli -herbs and trees ; and afterwards generated the 
numerous races of animals,^ which arose in various forms and 
by various modes. For animals, that were to live on the earth, 
could assuredly neither have fallen from the sky,'» nor have 
come forth from the salt depths of the sea. It remains, there- 
fore, to believe that the earth must justly have obtained the 
name of mother, since from the earth all living creatures were 
born. And even now many animals spring forth from, tlie 
earth, ivhich are generated by means of moisture and the 
quickening heat of the sun. It is accordingly less wonderful, 
if, at that time, creatures more numerous and of larger size 
arose, and came to maturity while the earth and the air were 
yet fresh and vigorous. 

First of all, the race of winged animals, and variegated 
birds, left their eggs, being excluded in the season of spring; 
as grasshoppers, in these days, spontaneously leave their thin 
coats ^ in the summer, proceeding to seek sustenance and life. 

Next, be assured, the eartli produced, for the first time, the 
tribes of men and beasts ; for much heat and moisture abound- 

' Ventured.] Ver. 7S0. Creduint. " Creduint for crediderint, i. e. 
C07ifisa^ ausa fuerint. arva. " Forhiger. Sed alii aliter. 

^ Full power of shooting upwards through the air.] Ver. 785. 
Crescimdi magnum immissis certainen habenis. Virg. Georg. ii. 363. 

Dum se hetus ad auras 
Palmes agit, laxis per purum im/nissus habenis, 

' Numerous races of animals.] Ver. 789. Mortalia corda multa. 
Al. iipcla. 

* FaHen from the sky, §-c.] Ver. 791. See ii. llo-l— 1157. 

^ Tliin coats.] Ver. 801. Folliculos teietes. Comp. ,iv. 56. "Ro- 
tundas gracilesqup tuni-t'- " Creech. 

B. V. 805—837. LUCRETIUS. 223 

ed through the plains, and hence, where any suitable region 
offered itself, a kind of wombs sprung up,* adhering to the 
earth by fibres. Tliese, when the age of the infants within 
them, at the season of maturity, had opened, (escaping from 
their moist-enclosure, and seeking for air,) nature, in those 
places, prepared the pores of the earth, and forced it to pour 
from its open veins a liquid like milk ; just as every woman 
at present, when she has brought forth, is stored with sweet 
milk, because all the strength of the food is directed to the 
breasts. Thus the earth afforded nourishment to the infants ; 
the warmth rendered a garment unnecessary ; and the grass 
supplied, a couch abounding with luxuriant and tender down. 

But the early age of the world gave forth neither severe 
cold nor extraordinary heat, nor winds of impetuous violence. 
For all these alike increase and acquire strength by time. 

For wliich cause, / say again and again, the earth has 
justly acquired, and justly retains, the name of mother, since 
she herself brought furtli the race of men, and produced, at 
tfiii certain time, almost every kind of animal wiiich exults 
over the vast mountains, and the birds of the air, at the same 
period, with all their varied forms. But because she must 
necessarily have some termination to bearing, she ceased, like 
a woman, exhausted by length of time. For lapse of time 
changes the nature of the whole world, and one condition after 
another must succeed to all things, nor does any being con- 
tinue always like itself. All is unsettled ; nature alters and 
impels every thing to change. For one thing decays, and, 
grown weak through age, languishes ; another, again, grows 
up, and bursts forth from contempt.^ Thus age changes the 
nature of the whole world, and one condition after another 
falls upon the earth ; i-o that what she could once bear she 
can bear no longer ; ivJtile she can bear what she did not bear 
of old. 

The earth, also, in that age, made efforts to produce va- 
rious monsters, that sprung up with wonderful faces and 
limbs ; the hermaphrodite, between both sexes, and not either, 

' Wombs sprung up, «S|C.] Ver. 806. Crescehant ttteri terra radicihus 
apti. This is mentioned as an opinion of some philosophers by 
Diod. Sic. i. 7, and as an opinion of Epicurus by Censorinus, p. 11, 9. 

^ Bursts forth from contempt.] Ver. '831. E contcmtibus exit. He 
repeats the same expression in ver. 1278. 

2-"^ LUCRETIUS. B. T. 838—868 

but removed from both ; otliers wanting feet, and others des- 
titute of bands ; some also were found dumb for want of a 
mouth, and s(»ne blind without even a face ; and otliers again 
were shackled by the cohesion of their limbs over their whole 
bodies, so that they could neither do any thing, nor go in any 
direction ; could nnither avoid harm, nor take what was ne- 
cessary to preserve life. 

Other prodigies and portents of this kind she generated; 
but to no purpose ; for nature abhorred and prevented their 
increase ; nor could they reach the desired maturity of ase, 
or find nutriment, or be united in the pleasures of love. For 
we see tliat many circumstances must concur with other cir- 
cumstances, in order tliat living creatures may be able to pro- 
duce their kinds by propagation. First it is necessary that 
there be food ; then that there be genial semen thi'oughout 
the organs, wliich may flow when the limbs are relaxed in 
union; and likewise, for the female to be united with the 
male, thet/ must both have correspondent members, by which 
each may combine in mutual delight with the other. 

Many kinds of animal life, too, must then have perished, not 
having been able to continue their species by propagation. For 
whatever creatures you see breathing the vital air, assuredly 
either craft, or courage, or at least activity, has preserved and 
defended their race from the commencem^ent of its existence. 
And there are many which, from their usefulness to mankind, 
remain, ((s it were, intrusted to us, and committed to our 

In tlie first place, courage has protected the fierce brood of 
lions, and tlie savage races of other wild animals ; and craft 
has secured the fox, as swiftness has saved the stag. But the 
light-slumbering breed of dogs, Avith their faithful affections, 
and all the various species of horses,' and the woolly flocks, 
too, and horned cattle, all these, my dear Memmius, are com- 
mitted to tlie protection of man. For they have anxiously 
avoided wild beasts, and have sought peace ; and plenty of 
subsistence has been provided for them without labour of 
theirs, which subsistence we secure to them as a reward in 

' And idl the various species of horses.] Ver. 863. Et genus 
omne quod est vetei-ino seminc partiun. I have translated this by horses, 
but it means all kinds of beasts that are serviceable to man by car- 
rying or drawing. Quasi ve/icterinus, from ve/io. Comp. ver. 888. 

B. V. 869—897. LUCRETIUS. 225 

return for their service. But of those to whom nature has 
given no such qualities, tliat they should either be able to 
live of themselves, or to afford us any service, why should we 
sutfer the races to be maintained and protected by our sup- 
port ? Indeed all these, rendered helpless by their own fatal 
bonds, were exposed as a prey and a prize to other animals, 
until nature brought their tvhole species to destruc^tion. 

But Centaurs, and such creatures, there neither were, nor 
ever can be ; for there can never exist an animal formed of a 
double nature and of two bodies ; an animal made up ot such 
heterogeneous members tliat the power in the opposite por- 
tions of the frame cannot possibly be equal. This you may 
learn, with however dull an understanding,' from the follow- 
ing observations. 

First, the horse, when three years of his age have passed, 
is flourishing in full vigour ; the boy, at this time of life, is 
by no means so, but will even often seek in his sleep the milky 
teats of his mothers breast. Afterwards, when, in old age, his 
lusty vigour and stout limbs are failing the horse, {grotoing tor- 
pid as life is departing,) behold, at that very period, the young 
man's age being in its flower, youth prevails in him,^ and 
clothes his cheeks with soft down ; so that you cannot pos- 
sibly imagine that Centaurs can be composed or consist of 
a man and the servile seed of a horse ;■* or that there can 
be Scyllae, of half-marine bodies, cinctured with fierce dogs ; 
or other monsters of this sort, whose parts we observe to be 
incompatible with each other ; parts which neither grow up 
together in their bodies, nor acquire vigour together, nor lose 
their strength "* together in old age ; and lohich are neither 
excited by the same objects of affection, nor agree with the 
same tempers, nov find that the same kinds of food are nu- 
tritious to their bodies.^ For you may observe that bearded 

' With however dull an understanding.] Ver. 880. Quamvis he- 
beti corde. 

* Youth prevails in him.] Ver. 887- Juventas Officii. " Intervenit." 
Wakefield. Al. Occipit. 

* Servile seed of a horse.] Ver. 888. Veterino semine equorum 
Comp. ver. 863. 

* Lose their strength.] Ver. 894. Ferficixmt. "That is, bring 
(tL-'ir strength) to an end." Wakefield. 

* N.-'vitious to their bodies.] Ver. 89(5. Joconda per artus. Jucundus, 
from mvo, - >ie)p or sustain. 


226 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 898—931. 

goats often grow fat on hemlock, which to men is rank 

Since, too, the flame of fire is accustomed to scorch and 
burn up the tawny bodies of lions, as well as every kind of 
creature on earth that consists of flesh and blood, how was it 
possible that a ChimaRra, one animal compounded of three 
bodies, the fore part a lion, the hinder a drnjron, the middle a 
goat,' cuuld blow abroad at its mouth a fierce flame out of its 
body ? 

For which reason, he who supposes that such animals might 
have been produced, even when the earth was new and the 
air fresh, (leaning for argument only on this empty term of 
newness,) may babble, with equal reason, many other hypo- 
theses of a like nature. He may say tliat rivers of gold then 
flowed every where over the earth, and that the groves were 
accustomed to blossom with jewels ; or that men were formed 
with such power and hulk of limbs, that they could ex- 
tend their steps over the deep seas, and turn the whole 
heaven around them with their hands. For though, at the 
time when the earth first produced animal life, there were in- 
numerable seeds of things in the ground, this is yet no proof 
that creatures could have been generated of mixed natures, 
and that heterogeneous members of animals could have been 
blended together. Since the various kinds of herbs, and fruits, 
and rich groves, which even now spring-up-exuberantly from 
the earth, can nevertheless not be produced with a union of 
different kinds. But they can readily he produced, if each 
proceeds in its own order, and all preserve their distinctions 
accoi'ding to the fixed law of nature. 

And that early race of men upon the earth was much more 
hardy ; as it was natural that they should he, for the hard 
earth herself bore them. They were internally sustained with 
bones both larger and more solid, and furnished with strong 
nerves throughout their bodies ; nor ivere they a race that 
could easily be injured by heat or cold, or by change of food, 
or by any corporeal malady. 

And during many lustres of tlie sun, revolving through the 
heaven, they prolonged their lives after the roving manner 
of wild beasts. No one was either a driver of the crooked 

' The middle a goat.] Ver. 903. Media ipsa. Chimcera ixifiaipa) 
signifies a goat. 

B. V. 932—956. LUCRETIUS. 227 

plough, or kr>ew how to turn up the fields with the spade, or 
to plant young seedlings in the earth, or to cut, with pruning- 
honks, the old boughs from the lofty trees. That supply which 
the sun and rain had afforded, or which the earth had yielded 
of its own accord, suiEciently gratified their desires. They 
refreshed themselves, for the most part, among the acorn-laden 
oaks. The earth, too, then furnished abundance of whortle- 
berries,' even larger than at present, which you now see ripen 
in winter, and become of a purple colour. And many rude 
kinds of nourisliment besides, ample for hapless mortals, the 
florid freshness of the world in those days produced. 

The rivers and fountains then invited them to quench their 
thirst, as the echoing fall of waters from the high hills now 
calls, far and wide, the thirsty tribes of wild beasts. After- 
wards they occupied the sylvan temples of the nymphs, well 
known to the wanderers ; from which tlie goddesses sent forth 
flowing rills of water,^ to lave with a copious flood the humid 
rocks, trickling over the green moss, and to swell and burst 
forth, with a portion of their streams, over the level plain. 

Nor as yet did they understand how to improve their con- 
dition by the aid of fire, or to use skins, and to clothe their 
bodies with the spoils of wild beasts. But they dwelt in 
groves, and hollow mountains, and woods ; and, when com- 
pelled to flee from the violence of the wind and rain, sheltered 
their rude limbs amid the thickets. 

Nor could they have regard to any common interest, or 

' Whortle-berries.] Ver. 939. Arhiita. Good translates this, " The 
wild wood-whortle," observing that commentators have uniformly 
imderstood that " the arborescent and garden strawberry-tree " is 
here signified, which bears " a crimson fruit about the size of an 
Orleans plum ;'" but that this fruit is " extremely sour and unpleas- 
ant to the taste," and is never emploj'ed " for purposes of food." 
He therefore thinks that Lucretius means that species of arbutus 
called by Caspar Bauhine " Vitis Idcea, the common whortle or cran- 
berry," which " has an agreeable snb-acid flavour when tasted 
alone," but " is more generally eaten with cream or milk sweetened 
with sugar, or else in the form of preserves ; in which latter state 
it is very largely made use of in Russia, and, indeed, among all the 
northern nations." 

^ Flowing rills of water.] Ver. 948. Tlumore fiventa Luhrica. 
" Id est, iluenta humida et liquida." Lambimts. The words Hiimida 
saxa, " hiunid rocks," are elegantly repeated in the original, but 
could not be repeated to any purpose in a prose translation. 

228 LUCRETIUS. B. T. 957-987. 

understand how to observe any customs or laws among them- 
selves. Whatever prize fortune had thrown in the way of 
any one, on that he seized ; each knowing only to profit by 
lii.s own instinct, and to live for himself. 

And Venus united tlie persons of lovers in the woods ; for 
either mutual desire reconciled each female to the intercourse, 
or tlie impetuous force and vehement lust of the man over- 
came her ; or acorns and wliortle-berries, or clioice crabs,' 
were the purchase of her favour.<. 

And, relying on the extraordinary vigour of their hands 
and feet, they pursued the sylvan tribes of wild beasts with 
missile stones and ponderous clubs ; and many they overcame, 
while a few escaped them in their dens ; and, when surprised 
by nig] it, they threw their savage limbs, like bristly boars, 
unprotected on the earth, covering themselves over with leaves 
and branches. 

Nor did they, trembling and wandering in tlie shades of 
night, seek to recall the day'-^ and the sun with loud cries 
throughout the fields, but, silent and buried in sleep, they 
waited till Phoebus, with his roseate beams, should again 
spread light over the heavens. For since they had always 
been accustomed, from their infancy, to see darkness and 
light produced at alternate seasons, it was impossible that 
they should ever wonder at tlie change, or feel apprehension 
lest, the beams of the sun being withdrawn for ever, eternal 
night should keep possession of the earth. But what rather 
gave them trouble, loas, that the tribes of wild beasts often 
disturbed the rest of hapless sleepers; while, driven from their 
cell at the approach of a foaming boar or stout lion, they fied 
from their rocky shelter, and yielded up with trembling, at the 
dead of night, their couches of leaves to the savage intruders. 
Nor 7jet did tlie race of men, in those days, leave with la- 
mentations the sweet light of life in much greater numbers 

» Choice crabs.] Ver. 963. Pira lecta. " Pears," says Good, 
" are a cultivated fruit, introduced, indeed, by pjvafting or inocula- 
tion alone, from the wild crab, which is the common origin of the 
pear, the apple, and the quince." He therefore translates pira 
*• crabs," and I have followed him. 

- NT or did they — seek to recall the day, Ac] Ver. 971. -Vec plan- 
cfore diem, ike. Some philosophers had attributed such surprise and 
"Oe?vair to the earliest race of men ; to which Manillas alludes, 
oooU i. 66, seq. 

;!. V. 9S8— 1007. LUCRETIUS. 229 

than at present. For though more frequently at that period, 
one individual of their number, being caught by wild beasts, 
and consumed by their teeth, afforded them living food, and 
filled, meanwhile, the groves, and mountains, and forests, with 
his shrieks, as he felt his bowels buried in a livin"- tomb :» 
while those whom night had saved, with their bodies torn, 
and pressing their trembling hands over their grievous wounds, 
called on deatli with horrid cries, until, destitute of relief, and 
ignorant what their hurts required, cruel tortures^ deprived 
them of life. Yet, in thoae times, one day did not consign to 
destruction many thousands of men under military banners ; 
nor did the boisterous Hoods of the sea dash ships and men 
upon rocks. But the ocean, though often rising and sioeUing, 
raged in vain and to no purpose,^ and laid aside its empty 
threats without effect ; nor could the deceitful allurement 
of its calm water entice, with its smiling waves, any one 
into danger ; /or the daring art of navigation was then un- 
known. Want of food then consi";ned languishin."' bodies 
to death ; now, on the contrary, abundance of luxuries causes 
destruction. The men of those times often poured out poison 

' As he felt his bowels buried in a living tomb.] Ver. 991. 1'iva 
videns vivo sepeliri viscera busto. Gorgias the rhetorician is censured 
by Loiiginus (Sect. 3) for calling vultures tfixpvxoi rdfoi, but Lu- 
cretius, says Faber, being a poet, may be allowed to use such an 
expression. There is a similar conceit in Milton, Sams. Ag. ver. 

Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave. 
And another in Pope, Essay on Man, iii. 1G2, 


Of half that live tiie butcher and the tomb. 

* Cruel tortures.] Ver. 995. Vermina sava. " Vermlna is a dis- 
ease of the body, with a slight motion in it, as if the patient were 
afflicted with worms. It is called by the Greeks crrpo^oc." Festm. 
" J'ermitia sinit tormina, unde verminari, pati tormina." Vossius 
De Anal. i. p. 150. Creech interprets vermina simply vermes, and 
Good gives " vile worms," which may, indeed, be the right sense. 

' But the ocean, though often rising and sirelling, raged in vain 
and to no pvn-pose.] Ver. 1002. This is the only passage in which I 
have departed from the text of Forbiger, in whose edition it stands 
thus : Nee temere incassum friistra mare scepe coortum scevibat. He 
attempts to make sense of it by referring the conjunction nee "not 
only to the \e\\>sa:vibat, but to all the sentence, as if Lucretius had 
' aid, nee scepe temere mare cooriebutur et scevibat." But wliom will this 
latisfy? Wakefield supplies m wcyes from the preceding verse, as 
.i" Lucretius would have said that the ocean did not often rage 

230 LUCRETIUS. b. v. lOOS- 1040. 

for themselves unawares; now persons of their own accord 
give it craftily to otliers. 

Afterwards, when they procured huts, and skins, and fire, 
and the woman, united to the man, came to dwell in the 
same place with him; and ivhen the pure and pleasing con- 
nexions of undivided love were known, and they saw a pro- 
geny sprung from themselves ; then first the human race 
began to be softened and civilized. For fire now rendered 
their shivering bodies less able to endure the cold under the 
canopy of heaven ; and love diminished their strength ; and 
children with their blandishments easily subdued the ferocious 
tempers of their parents. Then, also, neighbours, feeling a 
mutual friendship, began to form agreements not to hurt or 
injui'e one another; and they commended, with sounds and 
gestures, their children, and the female sex, to each other's 
protection ; while they signified, with imperfect speech, that 
it is right for every one to have compassion on the weak. 
Such concord, however, could not be established universally ; 
hut the better and greater part kept their faith inviolate, or 
the human race would then have been wholly destroyed, and 
the species could not have continued its generations to the 
present period. 

But nature prompted men to utter the various sounds of the 
tons:ue, and convenience drew from them the names of things, 
almost in the same manner as inability to use the tongue seems 
to excite children to gesture, when it causes them to point 
with the finger at objects which are present before them. For 
every creature is sensible that it can use its own fiiculty. 
Even before horns are produced on the forehead of a calf, it 
butts and pushes fiercely with it when enraged ; and the young 
of panthers, and whelps of lions, contend with their talons, 
and feet, and teeth, when their teeth and talons are yet scarcely 
grown. We see, moreover, that the whole race of birds trust 
to their wings, and seek a fluttering support from their pinions. 
To suppose, therefore, that any one man • then assigned names 

against ships when there were no ships. Try what mode of explan- 
ation you please, "nee," as Lachmann says, "perverts the sense." 
Lambinus reads sed, and him I have followed. Lachmann himself 
gives hie. The meaning of the passage evidently is, that there were 
then no ships for the ocean to wreck. 

' To suppose, therefore, that any one maw, .Sfc] Ver. 1040. Proinds 

B. V. 1041—1070. LUCRETIUS. 231 

to thing-s, and that men thence learned their first words, is to 
think absurdly ; for why should this one man be able to dis- 
tinguish all things with names, and to utter the varied accents 
of the voice, a?id others not be deemed able to do this at the 
same time ? Besides, if others had not also used words among 
themselves, whence was the knowledge q/'Mem ingral'ted m /«"m ? 
Whence was power first given to iiim, that he should under- 
stand, and discern in his mind, what expediency would wish 
to eifect ? One, likewise, would not be able to compel many, 
and oblige them, by force, to submit to learn fits names of 
things ; nor could he by any means teach, or persuade men 
unfitted to listen, what was necessary to be done ; for neither 
would they at all bear with patience, or long suffer him to din 
into their ears, to no purpose, the strange and unintelligible 
sounds of his voice. 

Lastly, what is there so wonderful in this matter, if the 
liuman race, whose voice and tongue were in full vigour, dis- 
tinguislied various objects by sounds, according to their various 
feelings ; when dumb cattle, and even the tribes of wild beasts, 
are wont to utter different and distinct cries when terror or 
pain affects tlieir hearts, and wlien joy prevails in them ? For 
this you may observe by manifest instances. 

When the large flabby jaws of the Molossian dogs begin to 
growl, as they are irritated, exposing their hard teeth, their 
violent i'ury ' threatens with a far different sound from that 
which they titter when they merely bark, and fill all the neigh- 
bourhood with yelping. And when they begin to lick 
their whelps tenderly with their tongue, or when they fondle 
them with their paws, and, snapping at them, affect gently to 
swallow them up with teeth suspended over them, they soothe 
them with a sort of whining, using their voice far otherwise 
than when they howl, deserted in lonely buildings, or when, 

putare aliquem turn nomina distribuisse, &c. " This is directed against 
Pythagoras, to whom it seemed co have been the office of the high- 
est wisdom to give names to all things ; and against Plato, who, in 
his Cratykis, says that names were given to things, not by chance, 
but by regular plan and contrivance ; and that he who first invented 
the names was called ovo^aTov^ybq, and ovofiaToQir-qQ." Lambinus. 

' Violent fury.] Ver. 1064. Rabies districta. Fury draicn like a 
siDord, as Wakefield interprets it ; equivalent to rabiosi denies dis- 


B. V. 1071—1091. 

with crouching body, they slink whimpering from beneath a 

Again, does not the voir.e of" the horse seem also to differ, 
when, as a vigorous steed in the flower of his age, and pierced 
with the goads of winged love, he rages-wildly among the 
mares ; and when he utters a snorting lor war from liis ex- 
panded nostrils, and thus, with his limbs trembling, neighs in 
qiiite other tones ? ^ 

Further, the winged tribes, and various birds, hawks, and 
eagles,^ and gulls, which, amid the waves of the sea, seek their 
food and living in the salt icater, utter far other cries at other 
times, than when the}' contend for sustenance and fight about 
l)rey. Occasionally, also, the long-lived generations of crows, 
and the flocks of ravens, change their hoarse notes with the 
weather, when they are said sometimes to call for rain and 
showers, and sometimes to cry for gales of wind. 

If various feelings, tlieretbre, impel the inferior animals, 
though they are destitute of speech, to utter various sounds, 
how much more consonant is it to reason, that men, even in 
those early days, should have been able to distinguish different 
objects by different names ! 

And lest, perchance, in reference to these subjects, you 
should meditate with yourself as to the following -point, and he 
anxious to know the origin of fire, I will inform you that light- 
ning first brought flame down upon the earth for mortals, and 

' Thus — neighs in quite other tones.] Ver. 1075, 1076. 
Et fremitum patulis sub naribus edit ad avma, 
Et quoni sic alias, concussis artibus, hinnit I 
This is Forbiger's reading. Wakefield injiidiciouslj^ transposed the 
two verses. Lambinus (whom Creech follows) reads Et quom sis, 
for sitis, justly observing that the sic is " idle and unmeaning." He 
also asks thp question, " Qiuenani arma .' Martiane, an Venerea?" 
but does not decide for eitlier; Lachmann understands the latter. 
Creech paraphrases the lines thus: " vel ciim in pugnam initurus 
e patulis naribus hinnitum edit, et cum alias propter causas artibus 
concussis hinnit; " understanding, apparently, the first verse de ar- 
mis Martiis, and the second de armis Veiwreis. I liave referred them 
both to the arrr.s c f Mars, believing that Virgil had this passage in 
his mind when he vrote the vigorous lines. 

Stare loco nzrcit, niicat auribus, et tremit artus, i^c, 

^ Eagles.] Ver. 1078. Ossifragw. "A kind of eagle; see I'liny, 
X. 2." Lambinus. 

B. V. 1092—1121. LUCRETIUS. 233 

that from thence all the fire in the zvorld^ is spread abroad. 
For we even now see many substances, struck with fire from 
heaven, ignite, when the ethereal region has sent down its 
flames. Tliough it is not to be forgotten, indeed, that when a 
branching tree,^ struck by the winds, is shaken and agitated, 
moving to and fro, aitd pressing against the boughs of another 
tree, fire, excited by the violent friction, is elicited ; so that 
sometimes, while tlie branches and stems are rubbed together, 
a fervid glow of flame bursts forth ; of which causes, accord- 
ingly, either might have supplied fire to mankind. 

The sun next instructed them to dress their food, and soften 
it with the heat of flame ; for they saw many things, through- 
out the fields, mollified by the force of his beams and subdued 
by his warmth. Hence those who excelled in sense, and had 
power of understanding, taught the others, every day more 
and more, to change their rude diet,^ and former mode of 
life, for new practices and improvements by means of fire. 

At length the leaders began to build cities, and to found 
fortresses, as a protection and refuge for themselves. They 
also divided the cattle and tlie fields, and allotted them accord- 
ing to tlie beauty, and strength, and understanding of each in- 
dividual ; for beauty was then much esteemed, and strength 
had great influence. Afterwards wealth was introduced, and 
gold brought to light, which easily robbed the strong and 
beautiful of their honour ; for men, however strong, or en- 
dowed with hoioever beautiful a person, generally follow the 
party of the richer. 

But to man, whoever governs his life according to true rea- 
son, it is great wealth to live on a little with a contented 
mind ; for of a little there is no want. Yet men wished 
themselves to be honoured and powerful, that their fortune 
might rest on a steady foundation, and that themselves, being 

' All the fire in the world.'] Ver. 1092. Omnis flammarum ardor. 

"^ When a branching tree, &c.] Ver. 1095. See i. 896. 

' Every day more and tnore to change their rude diet.] Ver. 
not. Inque dies magis itivictum — commutare. Invictus \s a viorA intro- 
duced from three MSS. by Forbiger, in the sense of /3('oc d/3ioc. Lam- 
binus and Wakefield read in victum ; and Wakefield exphiins com- 
mutare in victtim to be the same as commutare victum, or nnctationes 
importare in victum. But Creech adopted hi victum, from a conjec- 
ture of Naugerius, which Lachmann has retained, in Forbiger there 
is a misprint of hide for hique. 

234 LCJCRETIUS. B. V. 1122—1150. 

Strong, might pass an undisturbed life. But this they desired 
in vain ; tor, as they strove to reach the hignest honours, 
they rendered tlie course of their steps full of trouble. And 
still, though they attain their object, envy, like a thunderbolt, 
hurls them at times from their pre-eminence, and sinks them 
with scorn as into the gloom of Tartarus ; so that it is far 
better to obey in quiet, than to seek to hold states under our 
sway, and to manage kingdoms. Let men, therefore, if they 
will, sweat out their life's blood,' wearying themselves to no 
purpose, and struggling along the narrow road of ambition ; 
(for the highest objects, and whatever are more exposed on 
eminences,^ are generally sooner scorched with envy as well 
as with lightning ;) since they gather knowledge only from 
the mouths of others, and pursue things rather from what they 
hear than from their own judgments. Nor does this folly 
prevail more now, or will it prevail more hereafter, than it 
has already prevailed in past time. 

Kings, therefore,^ being deposed and slain, the ancient ma- 
jesty of their thrones, and their proud sceptres, lay overthrown 
in the dust ; and the illustrious ornament of the royal head, 
stained Avith blood beneath the feet of the rabble, mourned 
the loss of its supreme honour ; for that which has been too 
much feai-ed before, is eagerly trodden down. 

Power, accordingly, returned to the lowest dregs and rabble 
of manhind, whilst each sought dominion and eminence for 
himself. But at length the wiser part taught tltem to establish 
a government, and made laws^br them, that they might consent 
to observe order ; for mankind, weary of passing their lives in a 
state of violence, were worn out with contentions ; on which 
account they fell more submissively under the power of laws 
and strict ordinances. For because everv one, in his resent- 
ment, prepared to take revenge for himself more severely than 
is now allowed by equitable laws, men, for this reason, be- 
came disgusted with living in strife. Since, from this source, 

' Sweat out their life's blood.] Ver. 1128. Sanguine sudeiit. I am 
indebted to Good for the translation of these words. 

" Whatever are more exposed on eminences.] Ver. 1131. Qu(b 
sunt altis magis ediia quomque. " Exposed on high places, or promi- 
nent." Wakefield. 

' Kings, therefore, Ac] Ver. 1135. Ergo regibus occisis. The ergo, 
therefore, refers to what is said, in the preceding paragraph, about 
the lofty being humbled ; unless, indeed, some lines have been lost. 

B.v. 1151-1176. LUCRETIUS. 235 

the fear of punishment poisons the enjoyments of life ; for 
violence and injury involve every one, and generally recoil 
upon the head of him from whom they arose ; nor is it possible 
for any one to live a quiet arid peaceable life, who violates by 
his actions the common bonds of peace. For though his guilt 
escape, for a time, the knowledge of both gods and men, yet 
he cannot feel sure that it will always be hidden ; since many, 
speaking frequently in dreams, or being delirious in sickness, 
are said to have revealed their secrets, and to have published 
to the world long-concealed crimes. 

In the next place, what cause spread abroad, throughout 
the wide nations of the earth, the notion of the existence and 
power of the gods, and tilled cities with altars, and led 
solemn sacred rites to be instituted ; (which sacred rites now 
flourish and are performed on all important occasions and in 
all distinguished places ;) whence also terror pervades mortals; 
a terror which raises new temples of the deities throughout 
the whole globe of the earth, and impels men to celebrate their 
worship on feast days ; it is not so difficult, as it may seem, 
to explain.' 

For, in those early times of which we speah, the tribes of 
mortals beheld in their minds, even when awake, glorious 
images as of gods,^ and saio them, in their sleep, slill more dis- 
tinctly, and of a wondrous magnitude of figure. To these, 
thei'efore, they attributed vitality, because they seemed to move 
their limbs, and to utter majestic words, suitable to their dis- 
tinguished appearance and mighty strength. And they as- 
signed to them an immortal existence, because their appear- 
ances came-in-constant-succession, and their form remained 
the same ; although they might certainly have deemed them 
immortal on another account,^ as they would consider that 

' To explain.] Ver. Ilfi7- Bationem reddere verbis. 

^ Glorious images as of gods.] Ver. 1168. Divbm egregias fades. 
This is a most unsatisfactory way of accounting for the first con- 
ception of supernatural beings. " Consistently with his common 
doctrine," says Good, " Lucretius imputes the more frequent ap- 
pearance of those heavenly semblances, or rather their being more 
frequently perceived by mankind, in those early ages of the world, 
to the greater degree of solitude and tranquillity in which life was 
then passed." This is, however, not to be found in the passage 
before us. Other commentators are silent. 

^ Although they might certainly have deemed them, immortal mi another 
account.^ Ver. 1176. Et tamen omnino. The words supplied are 

236 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 1177—1207 

hehif/s, endowcfl with such apparent strength, could not easily 
be subdued by any destructive force. And they thought them 
pre-eminent in happiness, because the fear of death could thus 
trouble none of them, and because, at the same time, they saw 
them, in their dreams, do many and wonderful actions, and ex- 
perien(!e, as it seemed, no difficulty in the performance of them. 

Besides, they observed the revolutions of the heavens, and 
the various seasons of tlie year, go round in a certain order, 
and 1/et could not understand by what causes these effects 
were jirodueed. They had, then, this resource for themselves, 
to ascribe all things to gods, and to make all things be guided 
by their will. 

And the seats and abodes^ of these gods they placed in the 
sky, because through the sky the night and the moon are seen 
to revolve; the moon, I say, the day, and the night, and the 
august constellations^ of night, and the nocturnal luminaries 
of the heavens, and the flying meteors, as tvell as the clouds, 
the sun, rain, snow, winds, lightnings, hail, and the vehement 
noises and loud threatening murmurs of the thunder. 

O unhappy race of men ! as they attributed such acts, be- 
sides ascribing bitter wrath, to the gods I What lamentations 
did they then prepare for themselves, and what sufferings for 
us ! what fears have they entailed upon our posterity 1 

Nor is it any piety for a man to be seen, ivith his head 
veiled, turning towards a stone, and drawing near to every 
altar ; or to fall prostrate on the ground, and to stretch out 
his hands before the shrines of the gods ; or to sprinkle tlie 
altars with copious blood of four-footed beasts, and to add 
vows to vows ; but it is rather piety to be able to contemplate 
all things with a serene mind. For when we look up to the 
celestial regions of the vast world above, and contemplate the 
firmament studded with glittering stars, and reflect upon the 
revolutions of the sun and moon, the apprehension lest there 
should, perchance, be an almighty power of the gods above 
us, which guides the stars in their various motions, begins 
then to raise its head, as if awaking, within our breast ; an 

from the suggestion of Wakefield. Other editions have Et manet 
omtwio, which is not very intelHgible. 

' Abodes.] Ver. 1187. Templa. " Donios." Creech. 

* August constellations.] Ver. 1189. t>igna severa. " Veneranda, 
dia, sacra." Lambinus. 

B. V. 120S— 1240. LUCRETIUS. 237 

apprehe7ision which, perhaps, before lay dormant under the 
weight of other cares. Since poverty of reason, and igvor- 
ance of natural causes, disquiet the mind, while it doubts 
whether there was any birth or commencement of the world, 
or whether there is any limit of time, until which the walls 
of the world,^ and the silent movements of the heavenly bodies, 
can endure this incessant labour ; or whether tJie heavens, di- 
vinely endowed with an imperishable nature, can, as they roll 
along time's eternal course, defy the mighty power of endless 

Besides, whose heart does not shrink at the terrors of the 
gods ? Whose limbs do not shudder with dread, when the 
scorched earth trembles with the awful stroke of lightning, 
and ivhen the roars of thunder pervade the vast heaven ? Do 
not people and nations tremble ? And do not proud monarchs, 
penetrated with fear of the deities, recoil in every nerve, lest, 
for some foul deed, or arrogant word, the dread time of pay- 
ing penalty be come ? 

When, likewise, the mighty force of a tempestuous wind, 
raging over the sea, sweeps atliwart the deep the commander 
of a fleet with all his powerful legions and elephants,^ does 
he not solicit peace of the gods with vows, and timidly im- 
plore them with prayers, for a lull of the winds and a pros- 
perous gale ? Bict, alas ! he implores them to no purpose ; 
for, frequently, seized by a violent hurricane, he is neverthe- 
less borne away to the shoals of death. Thus some unseen 
power, apparently, bears upon human things, and seems to 
trample down proud fasces and cruel axes, and make them 
merely a sport for itself. 

Further, when the whole earth totters under our feet, and 
cities, shaken to their base, fall or threaten to fall, what wonder 
is it, that the nations of the world despise and humble them- 
selves, and admit the vast influence of the gods over the world, 
and their stupendous power to govern all things ? 

Moreover, brass, and gold,^ and iron were discovered, as 

' Walls of the world.] Ver. 1212. Mcenia mundi. That is, the 
heavens. Men cannot but suspect that the heavens may at length 
be worn out by perpetual revolutions. 

- Elephants.] Ver. 1227. Which he is transporting, to make war 
in a foreign country. 

3 Moreover, brass, and gold, &c.] Ver. 1240. Quod st/perest ces atque 
durum, &c. He now proceeds to tell how metals were discovered. 

238 LUCRETIUS. ' B. V. 1211-1272. 

well as heavy silver, a^nd tlie substance of lead,' at a time when 
fire had consumed mighty forests upon tlie high mountains, 
either from lightning having been hurled vpon them, or because 
men, warring among themselves in the woods, had set fire to 
them for a terror to their enemies ; or else because, moved by the 
goodness of the soil, they wislied to lay open fertile fields, and to 
render the country fit for pasturage ; or because they sought 
to kill the wild beasts, and to enrich themselves with their 
spoils. For to catch the game by means of pitfalls and fire, 
became a practice before men surrounded the forest with nets, 
or roused the animals with dogs. 

However this may be, or from whatever cause the rage of 
the fire, with frightful noise, had consumed the woods from 
their deepest roots, and had melted the earth with heat, there 
flowed from the boiling veins, uniting in the liollow places of 
the soil, a stream of silver and gold, as well as of brass and 
lead ; whicli, when they afterwards saw it congealed, and 
shining with a bright colour on the ground, they took up, 
being attracted by its glittering and smooth lustre ; and they 
observed that the masses were formed of the same shape as 
the figure of the receptacle of each had been. It then occur- 
red to them, that these metals, being melted with heat, might 
settle into any form or figure of things, and miglit also be 
fashioned, by beating out, into the sharpest and finest points 
of instruments, so that they might make tools for themselves, 
and be able botli to cut down the woods, and hew timber, 
and smooth and polish boards, as well as to pierce, excavate, 
and bore. 

These instruments they at first attempted to make of silver 
and gold, no less than of the strong substance of hard brass ; 
but in vain ; for the consistence of those metals yielded and 
gave way, and both were alike unable to bear severe usage. 
Accordingly brass was then more in esteem, and gold was 

Similar extractions of metals from the earth, casual or otherwise, 
are mentioned by Aristotle, De ^lirab. p. 102, ed. Sylb. ; Athenteus 
vi. 4, stib fin. ; Strabo, lib. iii. p. H7 ; Diodorus Sicidus. Ant. lib. 
iv., hatid longe ab init. ^^s I have rendered brass, (not copper, as 
Good translates it,) for Servius, (ad JE\i. xii. 87,) alludinj^ to this 
very passage of Lucretius, makes it equivalent to orichakum, which 
is generally understood to be brass. 

' Substance of lead.] Vcr. 1211. Plumbi potestas. The same as 
plumbi vis, or plumbum ipsum. 

B. V. 1273—1302. LUCRETIUS. 239 

neglected on account of its uselessness, as faking only a 
dull edge and blunt point; now brass is despised, and gold 
has succeeded to the highest honours. For thus revolving 
time changes the seasons of things ; that wliich was once in 
estimation, becomes of no repute at all ; while another thing 
succeeds, and bursts forth from contempt ; ' something which is 
daily more and more sought, and which, when found, flour- 
ishes among mankind with special praise and wonderful 

It is now easy for thee to understand of thyself, my Mem- 
mius, how the nature and use of iron were discovered. 

The first weapons of mankind were the hands, nails, and 
teeth ; also stones, and branches of trees, the fragments of 
the woods ; then flame and fire were used, as soon as they 
were known ; and lastly was discovered the strength of iron 
and brass. But the use of brass was known earlier than that 
of iron ; inasmuch as its substance is more easy to work, and 
its abundance greater.^ With brass they turned up the soil 
of the earth ; and with brass they excited the tumults of war, 
and inflicted deep wounds, and took away the cattle and lands 
of their neighbours ; for every thing unarmed and defenceless 
easily surrendered to those that were armed. Then gradu- 
ally came forth the sword of steel, and the form of the brazen 
pruning-hook was turned into contempt. With iron they 
began to cleave the ground, and the contests of doubtful war- 
fare were made equal. 

And it appears that man mounted armed upon the back of 
a horse, and guided it with reins, and exerted his right hand 
to fight, before he tried the hazards of war in a two-horsed 
chariot. It also doubtless occurred earlier to yoke two horses 
than four, or than to mount in full armour on chariots equipped 
with scythes. In process of time the Carthaginians taught 
fierce elephants,^ with towers on their backs, and with snake- 
like proboscis, to endure the wounds of war, and to throw vast 

* Bursts forth from contempt.] Ver. 1277- See ver. 831. 

* Its abundance greater.] Ver. 1283. Copia major. Viz. in those 
early times. 

Xa\K(ii ilpydZovTo, fikXag S' ovk ictke <ji^i]poQ. Hes. Op. et D. 150. 

' Elephants.] Ver. 1301. Boves Lucas. Elephants were so called 

by the Romans because they first saw them in Lucania, in the war 

with Pyrrhus. Plin. H. N. viii. fi, 6.— With snake-like proboscis.] 

Angidmanos. See ii. 538. 

240 LUCKETIUS. B. V. 1303-134.5 

martial battalions into confusion. Thus sad discord produced 
one invention at'ti-r another, to spread terror in battle among 
the tribes of men, and added daily increase to the horrors of 

Tliey tried bulls, also, in the business of war, and endea- 
voured to impel fierce boars against the enemy. The Parthi- 
; ans, too, sent strong lions before them, with armed keepers 
\ and daring guides, to govern them and hold them in chains. 
But such attempts were in vain ; for the savage beasts, heated 
with tumultuous slaugliter, and shaking their terrible manes 
on every side, disordered all troops without distinction. Nor 
could the riders soothe the spirits of their horses, which were 
alarmed at the roaring of the lions, and turn them with the 
reins against the enemy. The lions, in their rage, threw 
themselves with leaps among the soldiers in every part ; they 
flew at the faces of those who came against them, and seized 
on others from behind unawares, and, clasping them round 
about, threw them to the earth sinking under wounds, 
clinging to them with tlieir strong teeth and hooked talons. 
The bulls tossed their own people, and trampled them under 
foot ; they gored with their liorns the sides of tlie horses, and 
their bellies underneath, and tore up the earth with alarming 
fury. But the boars killed their own friends with strong 
tusks, staining, in their rage, the broken darts Avith their 
blood, and spread promiscuous destruction among cavalry 
and infantry. For though the horses, leaping aside, shunned 
the fierce attacks of their teeth, or, rearing up. pawed the air 
■with their feet, yet they struggled to no purpose ; since you 
might have seen them sink down hamstrung, and cover the 
earth witli a heavy fall. Whatever beasts they thouglit suffi- 
ciently tame at home, they saw, in the heat of action, mad- 
dened with wounds, cries, flight, terror, and tumult. Nor 
could they recall any portion of them to order; for all the 
different kinds of beasts scattered themselves abroad ; as ele- 
phants even now, when imperfectly inured to weapons, flee 
hither and thither, after having inflicted much cruel damage 
on tlieir masters. 

Thus, and with these vietvs, it is possible that they might 
act. But I am scarcely inclined to think that they could not 
originally foresee, and consider in their minds, how general 
and calamitous an evil stick warfare would prove to succeeding 

B. V. 1346-1375. LUCRETIUS. 241 

times. But they were willing to adopt ^ this practice, not so 
much with the hope of conquering, as to cause annoyance to 
the enemy ; and men who distrusted their numbers, and were 
Avithout efficietit arms, naturally grew desperate, and were 
ready to perish themselves, if they might but destroy their op- 

The garment of skins, fastened together, existed before the 
woven dress ; the woven succeeded the discovery of iron ; for 
by iron weaving is performed. Nor, indeed, of any other mate- 
rial can instruments of such smoothness as treadles, spindles, 
shuttles, and rattling yarn-beams, be produced. 

And nature obliged men to work in wool before women ; 
for all the male sex far excel in art, and are much more inge- 
nious than the female. This state of things continued until 
the sturdy husbandmen made it a reproach to the tcorkers in 
loool; making them consent to resign it to the hands of 
women, and themselves to endure hard labour together icith 
the tillers of the ground, and strengthen their limbs and hands 
with severe toil. 

But of sowing and planting,^ and of grafting, nature, the 
great producer of all things, was herself the first example and 
origin. For berries and acorns that fell from the trees, ex- 
hibited, in the proper season, a crop of seedlings underneath ; 
from observing v/hich they also ventured to intrust slips to 
the boughs, and to plant young stocks throughout the fields. 

They then tried different methods of tilling the kindly 
soil, and saw wild fruits become improved in their lands by 
being cherished and indulgently cultivated. And they com- 
pelled the woods to withdraw daily farther up the mountains, 
and to give room below for tillage ; so that they might have 
meadows, lakes, rivulets, corn-fields, and rich vineyards 
throughout the hills and plains, and that a green tract of 
olives, marking the ground, might run between other trees. 
stretching far over the heights, and valleys, and plaiiiS ; as 
you now see all gardens distinguished with varied beauty, 

1 But they were willing to adopt, Ar.] Ver. 1346. Three verses 
which precede this, and which are evidently spurious or misplaced 
I have omitted in the translation. Lachmaun has ejected then, 
from his text. 

2 But of sowing and planting.] Ver. 1360. At—satiomy Satic 
means both sowing and planting. Grafting may be considered of 
more recent date than Lucretius makes it. 


242 LUCRETIUS. n. v. 137G— 1403. 

which, intersected with rows of dulcet apples, me7i lay out 
and adorn, and lohich they keep planted around with other 
fruit trees. 

But to imitate with the mouth the liquid voices of birds ' 
was practised long before men could play melodious tunes, 
and deliglit the ear with music. The whistling of the zephyr 
through the empty reeds first taught the rusti(;s to blow 
through hollow stalks. Then by degrees they learned the 
sweet plaintive notes, which the pipe, pressed by the fingers 
of the players, pours forth ; the pipe, which is now found 
through all the pathless groves, and woods, and glades, 
through the solitary haunts, and divine resting-places,^ of the 

Thus time by degrees suggests every discovery, and skill 
evolves it into the regions of light and fame. 

These melodies softened the hearts of those sivains, and de- 
lighted them when they were satisfied with food ; for then 
every thing affords pleasure. 

Oftentimes, therefore, stretched upon the soft grass, near a 
rivulet of water, under the boughs of a high tree, they socially, 
though with no great wealth, gratified their senses with 
pleasure, especially when the weather smiled upon them, and 
the seasons of the year painted the green herbage with flowers. 
Then jests, and pleasant talk, and agreeable laughter, were 
wont to be enjoyed; for then the rustic muse had full vigour 
and influence. Then sportive gaiety prompted them to deck 
their heads and shoulders with garlands of flowers and leaves, 
and to stand forth in irregular dances, moving their limbs 
stiffly, and to stamp on mother earth with heavy foot ; whence 
arose smiles and jocund laughter, because all these exhibitions 
had then greater effect, as being new and wonderful. Hence 

' But to imitate — voices of birds, (Sfc] Ver. 1.378. He says that 
the idea of music was taken from the singing of birds, and that of 
wind instruments from the whistling of the wind among reeds. 

^ Divine resting-places.] Ver. 1386. Otiadia. I know not whether 
Lucretius calls the haunts of the shepherds dia because they were 
supposed to be frequented by Fauns and other deities, or because 
they were «Mi dio ; or whether he uses the epitliet in some other 
sense. The commentators give no opinion, except that Creech, in 
his parapiirase, introduces Pustores otio abundantes, as if he took dius 
for abundant, mimerous. But this acceptation I should be unwilling 
to adopt. 

B. V. 1404—1432. LUCRETIUS. 243 

to produce various modulations of voice, and to weave tunes, and 
to run over the reeds with compressed lips, were compensations 
for want of sleep, as they watched during the night. From 
whom, also, the men of the present day, wakeful in nocturnal 
orgies, have received and maintain the same practices,^ and 
have learned to preserve regularity of numbers ; and yet they 
do not, even now, enjoy their amusement with greater delight 
than that which the sylvan sons of earth then experienced. 

For that gratification which is present, if we have pre- 
viously known nothing more agreeable, delights us pre-emi- 
nently, and seems to be superior to every thing else; but any 
thing better, which is discovered afterwards, blunts and alters 
our feelings as to all we enjoyed before. Thus dislike of 
acorns came upon mankind; thus those ancient beds, formed 
of grass and leaves, were abandoned. Skins, too, and the 
savage dress, fell into contempt ; a dress of which I can 
imagine the discovery to have excited such envy,^ that he who 
first wore it, jwssibly died from a treacherous-combination 
against him ; and that his garment, being torn, with much 
bloodshed, among those loho sleiv him, was at last spoiled, and 
rendered incapable of being used. 

In those days skins, in these gold and purple, disturb the 
life of men with cares, and harass it with war. In which re- 
gard, as I think, blame has fallen far more justly on us than 
on them. For cold tormented the uncovered children of earth, 
xvhen they were without skins ; but to be destitute of a purple 
garment, adorned with gold and cumbrous figures, causes no in- 
convenience to us, provided that we have, instead of it, a com- 
mon dress that may defend us against the weather. The 
human race, accordingly, labour perpetually in vain and to no 
purpose, and consume their life in empty cares ; evidently 
because they do not know what is the proper limit to acquisi- 
tion, and. how far real pleasure extends : and this ignorance 

' Wakeful in nocturnal orgies, have received and maintain the 
^2lVl\q practices^ Ver. 1407. Uncle etiam vigiles mmc hac accepta tuentur . 
In tliese words, as in those immediately preceding, where Lucretius 
speaks of " compensations forwant of sleep," I have followed Wake- 
field's opinion of the sense. Lambiniis and Creech thought that 
men unable to sleep from care or disease were intended. 

^ The discovery to have excited such envy-] Ver. 1418. Invidia 
tall repertam. 

R 2 

244 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 1433—1456, 

lias gradually carried them into a sea of evils, and thorough- 
ly aroused the mighty tumults of wai*. 

But the wakeful and untiring sun and moon, that illumine 
with their light the vast revolving region of the heaven, taught 
mankind that the seasons of the year proceed, and that every 
thing is carried on, by a certain law and in a certain order. 

They afterwards passed their lives defended with strong 
fortresses, and the earth, divided and marked out, was culti- 
vated and peopled. 

The sea was next covered with ships for the sake of per- 
fumes.' Men had auxiliai-ies and allies, with settled treaties. 
The poets now began to hand down gi-eat deeds in their poems; 
letters bad only a short time before been discovered. Hence 
our age cannot trace what previously occurred, except so far 
as reason gives indications. 

Ships, and the culture of land, walls of cities, laws, arms, 
roads, garments, and other things of this kind ; all the bless- 
ings and all the delights of life ; poems, pictures, and artfully- 
wrought statues, improving use,^ and the experience of the 
active mind, proceeding step by step, taught all mankind 
gradually to adopt. 

Thus time by degrees suggests every discovery, and skill 
evolves it into the regions of light and celebrity. Thus, in 
the various arts, we see that diiferent inventioiis proceed from 
different minds, until they reach the highest point of excel- 

' For the sake of perfumes.] Ver. 1441. Turn mare velivolis (na- 
vibtis so.) florehat 2)ropter odores. This is the reading of Wake- 
field and his followers, as if trading voyages were made for nothing 
but perfumes. Lambinus, and his clients, read Ttim mare velivohmi 
florehat navibu' panclis. Lachmann corrects, from conjecture, Turn 
mare velivolis /lorebat pvpjnbus, et res, 8fc. 

2 Improving use.] Ver. 1450. Politus icsus. ^^ Polibus usus is \heA 
which either has polish or produces it." Wakefield. 



Lucretius commences with a panegyric on Athens, as the inventress and 
promoter of useful and elegant arts, and especially as the birth-place of 
Epicurus, whom he again extols, ver. 1 — 42. He then proceeds to treat of 
meteoric appearances in the heavens, and, lest men should be terrified at 
thunder, as proceeding from Jupiter, asserts that it arises entirely from 
natural causes, ver. 43 — 95. It is produced by the collision, or disruption, 
or corrasion of clouds, ver. 96— 120 ; or from other causes, ver. 121 — 
159. Lightning, he says, is fire forced out of clouds, either by their 
collision, or by the force of winds, ver, 160 — 218. Of the nature and origin 
of the thunderbolt, ver. 219 — 322. Of its swiftness, and that of lightning, 
and why storms are more prevalent at the equinoxes, vei'. 323 — 378. Ri- 
dicule of those who attribute the origin and direction of storms to the 
gods, ver. 379 — 422. Of the prester, or water-spout, ver. 423 — 450. Of 
the production of clouds, ver. 451 — 494. Of rain, the rain-bow, and 
other natural phaenomena, ver. 495 — 535. Of earthquakes, ver. 536 — 607- 
Of the sea, and why it grows no larger, ver. 608 — 639. Of the fires of 
Mlns., ver. 640—712. Of the Nile, and its exundations, ver. 713—738. 
Df the lake Avernus, and the neighbouring region, with remarks on other 
matters, ver. 739 — 840. Of the temperature of water in wells, and of cer- 
tain remarkable springs, ver. 841 — 906. Of the magnet, and the causes 
why iron is attracted towards it, illusti-ated by many remarks on the na- 
ture and influence of atoms, and of difi"erent substances, one upon another, 
ver. 907—1088. Of the origin and cause of diseases, ver. 1089—1136; 
with a full description of the plague that depopulated Athens during 
the Peloponnesian war, ver. 1137 — 1285. 

246 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1—32 

In early days, Athens, of illustrious name, first eominuni- 
catt'd to sufP^ring mortals the method of producing corn ; 
Atlieiis, sXiio, first, improved life, and establislied laws ; Athens, 
moreover, first afforded sweet consolations of existence, when 
she gave birtli to that pre-eminent man, endowed with such 
mighty genius, who once poured forth instruction on all sub- 
jects from liis truth-speaking mouth ; and vvliose fame, spread 
abroad of old on account of his discoveries, is raised, since 
his death, even to the skies. 

For when he observed tliat almost all things, which neces- 
sity requires for subsistence, and by wliich mankind may 
render life free from care,' are already prepared for them by 
natnre, yet smo that men way abound in wealth, may be 
crowned with honour and applause, and may have pride in 
the good fame of their children, but that, notwithstanding, 
there may be griefs in the heart of each at home, and each 
may disquiet life with unhappy querulousness of mind, he 
understood, at once, the cause which compels them to lament 
with such troublesome complaints ; he perceived that the vessel 
itself was in fault, and that all good things which were collected 
and brouglit into it from abroad, were spoiled by its imperfection 
within ; lie was convinced of this, partly because he saw that 
it was unsound and perforated, so that it could never by any 
rr.eans be filled ; and partly because he found that it contami- 
nated with an oiFensive taste, as it were, all things that it had 
received within it. He therefore purged the minds of men 
with the words of truth, and set bounds to desire and fear ; 
he explained what is the chief good at which we all aim, and 
showed the way, in a narrow track, by which we may in a 
straiglit course arrive at it. And he taught what evil pre- 
vails every where in human affairs, which flows and arises 
variously, either from casual accident, or from necessity, ac- 
cording as nature has appointed ; and he showed from what 
portals each ought to be met,^ and proved that mankind re- 

' Render life free from care.] \er. 11. Vitain consistere tutam. 
" Consktere is used in an extraordinary sense, for constituere et red~ 
dere." Tunicb. Advers. ii. 12, cited by Havercamp. 

^ From what portals each ought to be met.] Ver. 32. Qtiibus i 
pnrtis occurri quoiqiie deceret. " A nietaplior from military affairs, in 
allusion to p;ates of cities or camps, from which a sally is made, oi 
resistance offered, against the enemy." Lamhinus 

B. VI. 33—50. LUCRETIUS. 247 

volve in their breasts, for the most part unnecessarily, the 
sorrowful tumults of care. For as children tremble,' and 
fear every thing in thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear 
sometimes things which are not more to be feared than those 
which children dread, and imagine about to happen, in the 
dark. This terror of the mind, therefore, it is not the rays 
of the sun, or the bright arrows of day, that must dispel, but 
the contemplation of nature and the exercise o/ reason. For 
which cause, I shall more carefully proceed to complete, 
with some further observations, the undertaking ichich I have 
in hand. 

And since I have shown that the regions of the world are 
m(n'tal, and that the heaven consists of substance generated 
avd perishable, and that whatever things are produced, and 
must necessarily be produced, within it, are for the most part 
necessarily dissolved ; attend now to what further remains to 
be said ; since his friends once 7nore exhort the charioteer to 
ascend his stately chariot,^ testiiying-by-their-applause, that 
cdl things which before were adverse to his course, are noio 
altered through their gentle favour. 

But the phcenomena which men observe^ to occur in the 

' For as children tremble, ^-c] Ver. 35. See ii. 55 ; iii. 87. 

* Since — to ascend his stately chariot, *fc.] Ver. 47. 

Quandoquidem semel insignem conscendere currum 
Vectorem exhortant plaudendo, vit obvia cursu 
Quae fuerint, sint placato conversa favore. 

This is a hcus vexatissimus, in which Forbiger has been daring enough 
to depart from the text of Wakefield, and to offer conjectm-es of 
his ov,n. "The meaning is evidently," says he, " I will proceed 
to sing of the nature of things, since I have once begiui, and have, 
with the encouragement of my reader, so far proceeded success- 
fully ; the metaphor beinj; taken from the chariot-races in the Circus 
Maximus." Lambinus and Creech have, 

Quandoquidem semel insignem conscendere currum 
Vincendi spes bortata est, atque obvia cursu 
Quae fuerant, sunt placato conversa furore. 

That is, " Since the hope of victory has once prompted me to mount 
my stately chariot, and since all thint/s which had been opposed to 
my course, are now altered, all violence being allayed." But 
the variations in the manuscripts are sucli, that to tell whose con- 
jecture approaches nearest to what Lucretius wrote, is impossible. 
Lachmann has another conjecture, which it is not worth while to 

But the jjhfenometia which men observe, 4fc.l Ver. 50. Cetera, 


248 LUCRETIUS. B VI. 51-73. 

earth and the heavens, when, as often happens, they are per- 
plexed with fearful thoughts, overaAve their minds with a 
dread of the gods, and humble and depress them to the earth ; 
for ignorance of natural causes obliges them to refer all thin^-s 
to the power of the divinities, and to resign the dominion of 
the world to them; because of these effects they can by no 
means see the origin, and accordingly suppose that they are 
produced by divine influence. For if those who have fairly 
understood that the gods pass a life free from care, neverthe- 
less wonder, meanwhile, how things can severally be carried 
on, especially in those matters which are seen in the ethereal 
regions above our heads, they are carried back again to their 
old notions of religion, and set over themselves cruel tyrants 
whom they unhappily believe able to do all things ; being 
themselves ignorant what can and what cannot be done ; and 
by what means limited power, and a deeply fixed boundary, 
is assic/ned to every thing. On which account, through their 
own blind reasoning, they are led away more and more into 

^u(i\\ fancies unless you expel from your mind, and put far 
from you unworthy thoughts of the gods,' and cease to har- 
bour notions inconsistent with their tranquillity, the sacred 
power of the divinities will often, as being offended by you,^ 
obstruct your peace ;^ not that the supreme majesty of the dei- 
ties can really be violated, so that it should seek, through anger, 
to inflict severe punishment ; but because you yourself, ivhen 

qufe fieri in terris coeloque tuentur mortaJes. Creech interprets cetera 
by reliqiia ; I take it as a conjunction, the same as caterum. 

" Put far from you unworthy thoughts of the gods.] Ver. 68. 
Long i que remittis dls indigna putare. " Remittis to putare." Wake- 

^ Sacred power of the divinities offended by you.] Ver. 70. 

Delibata per te — tmnihia saticta. Lambinus, after suggesting delibrata 
and deliinata, says tliat he does not altogether disapprove oi delibata, 
if it be considered as a metaphor from wine, quod libando demijiututn 
esse intcUigitur. Havcrcamp quotes from Turnebus, Adv. ii. 12, the 
expositions, contaminata, diminuta, violata, which I have adopted. 
Turnebus adduces from the Auctor ad Herenn. Delibans insitam 
virtutem; to which Havercamp adds from Corn. Nepos, (Dat. 6,) we 
— a7iimi delibare7itur tnilitum, where the common editions read dehili- 

' Will — obstruct your peace.] Ver. 71. Tibi — oheriint. "That is, 
will be before your eyes, and, as if threatening you, will exhibit 
terrible faces from the regions of heaven." Wakefield. Comp. i. 65. 

M. VI. 74—96. LUCRETIUS. 249 

tfou might be calm in tranquil peace, will suppose that the gods 
cherish vast floods of wrath against you ; nor will you ap- 
proach the temples of the deities with a heart at ease, nor be 
able to admit into your mind, with placid serenity of con'tem- 
plation, thase images which are borne from the sacred persons 
of the gods,^ as indications of their divine beauty, into the 
breasts of mankind. 

Hence you may conceive what sort of life would follow 
such a belief. And although many observations have been 
made by me, to the end that true wisdom may repel such a 
fife far from us, many more still remain to be added, and to 
be recommended by smooth verse ; and the nature of things 
above us,^ and of tlie heaven, is to be understood. Tempests, 
and bright lightnings, are to be sung ; their nature is to be 
told, and from what cause they pursue their course ; lest, 
having foolishly divided the heaven into parts,^ you should be 
anxious as to the quarter from which the flying flame may 
come, or to what region it may betake itself ; and tremble 
to think how it penetrates through walled enclosures, and how, 
having exercised its power, it extricates itself from them. 
Of which phfenomena the multitude can by no means see the 
causes, and think that they are accomplished by supernatural 

Thou, O skilful muse Calliope, solace of men, and pleasure 
of gods, mark out my path for me, as I run to the white goal 
at the end of the course,"* that, under thy guidance, I may at- 
tain a crown with distinguished applause. 

In the first place, the blue skies are convulsed with thun- 

' Images— from the sacred persons of the gods.] Ver. 76. Corpora 
qua sancto simulacra fcruntur. He here speaks of the gods, not as 
creatures of the imagination, but as having a certain existence. 

- Nature of things above us.] Ver. 83. Ratio superdm. " Supera, 
id est, TO. ^treujpa, intelligendum esse puto." Faber. With whom 
Wakefield concurs. 

' Having foolishly divided the heaven into parts.] Ver. 86. 
"This refers to the practice of the augurs and Etrurians, of which 
Cicero speaks in his second book De Divinatione, observing that the 
Etrurians divided the heaven into sixteen parts, &;c." Lambinus. 

* To the white goal at the end of the course.] Ver. 92. Prcescripta 
ad Candida callis. " Candida callis, as vera and ardua via'i, strata vi- 
amm, and a hundred other similar plirases in Lucretius and other 
authors. Lambinus has aptly quoted Seneca, Epist. cviii., hane 
qvam mmc in Circo cretani vocamris, calcem a7itiqtd vocabant ; viz. be- 
cause tlie goal was covered over with chalk or lime." Wakefield, 

'250 LUCRETIUS. E. VI. 97— 12o. 

der, because the clouds in the, air, as they fly along on higli, 
when winds are opposed to each other, meet together incollisiov. 
For in a clear part of the sky no noise takes place. But the 
more densely the clouds are collected, in any quarter whatso- 
ever, with so much louder a noise does the thunder frequently 
proceed from that quarter. 

The clouds, too, it is to be observed^ can neither be of so 
dense a substance as stones and wood are ; nor again, of so 
subtle a consistence as flying mists and smoke are. For, in the 
one case, they would either fall, being brought down by their 
own dead weight, or, in the other, they would, like smoke, be 
unable to keep together, or to retain within them the cold snows 
and showers of hail. 

Clouds also produce a sound,' by certain motions, athwart 
the regions of the open sky, as canvass, stretched over the 
large theatres, makes a noise wdien it is tossed about among 
the posts and beams. Sometimes a cloud is ruffled and torn 
in pieces by boisterous winds, and then imitates the rattling 
noise of paper ; for that kind of crackling you may also ob- 
serve in thunder. Or it sounds as when the winds shake 
with their blasts a hanging garment, or flying sheets of parch- 
ment, and rattle them in the air. 

It sometimes happens, moreover, that clouds cannot so 
much come into collision front to front, as meet side to side, 
rubbing their masses slowly against one another, with various 
movements ; whence that dry kind of sound, which you may 
sometimes observe, strikes upon tlie ear, and which is pro- 
tracted for some time, until the clouds have escaped from the 
confined space. 

Thus too, not unfrequently, all things around, convulsed 
with violent thunder, seem to tremble, and the mighty walls 
of the capacious world appear at once to have started and 
burst asunder ; and this happens when a collected body of 
strong wind has suddenly involved itself within a cloud, and, 
being shut up there, forces the cloud, (as the whirling air 

' Cfojtrfs also produce a sound, ^c.~\ Ver. 108. Dant etiam sonitum, 
&c. Lucretius, and those of his school, had certainly extravagant 
notions respecting clouds. In this passage he expresses his opinion 
that a cloud may make a noise like canvass flapping or splitting, 
and, a little below, (ver. IHO, seq.,) says that a cloud may be burned 
up, and produce a crackling, like leaves of laurel. Yet he seems in 
general to iiave thought that clouds were mists : see ver. 495, seq. 

B. Ti. 126—159. LUCRETIUS. 251 

Stretches it more and more in all directions,) to become hollow, 
hut with a thick crust round the cavity. Afterwards, when 
the strong force and spirit of the wind ivithin has fermented, 
it at length, being emitted from confinement, gives a crack, 
with a friglitfully-crashing sound. Nor is this surprising, 
when a small bladder, filled with air, often produces, if sud- 
denly burst, a loud sound of a similar kind. 

There is also another reason why the winds, when they 
blow among the clouds, may produce a sound ; for we often 
see branched and rough clouds cari-ied about in the air in 
various directions. So that such a noise may arise in the 
clouds as when the north-west gales blow through a thick wood, 
and the leaves make a rustling and the boughs crackle. 

It happens, likewise, at times, that the vehement force of a 
strong blast tears a cloud asunder, cleaving it through with a 
straight-forward assault. For what the wind may effect in the 
sky, manifest experience demonstrates on the earth, where, 
though it is less violent, it often overthrows and tears up lofty 
woods from their lowest roots. 

There are also waves in the clouds, which, breaking hea- 
vily, make a murmuring noise ; such as is likewise excited 
in deep rivers, and in the vast sea, when it is broken and 
rages with the tide. 

It occurs, moreover, that Avhen the burning violence of 
lightning passes fi'om one cloud into another, the second cloud, 
if it receives the fire into a large body of moisture, imme- 
diately extinguishes it with a loud noise; as hot iron, taken 
from a glowing furnace, hisses when we plunge it into the 
cold water standing near. 

Further, if a cloud, lohich is more dry than ordinary, re- 
ceives the lightning, it is at once set on fire, and scorched up 
with a loud sound ; such as is heard if a flame, on any occa- 
sion, spreads over hills covered with laurel, burning it up 
with great fury, and impelled by a storm of wind. Nor does 
any substance burn with a more startling sound, as the flame 
crackles among its houghs, than the Delphic laurel of Phoebus. 

In addition, xve may observe that a great crashing of ice, 
and fiiU of hail, among the vast clouds in the sky, frequently 
produce a loud sound. For masses of cloud, closely con- 
densed, and mixed with hail, are, when the wind compresses 
them, shattered and broken to pieces. 

252 LUCRETIUS. B. Ti. 160-184. 

It lightens, also, when the clouds, by their collision, have 
struck out numerous atoms of fire ; just as if a stone strikes 
another stone, or a piece of iron ; for then, in like manner, a 
light bursts forth, and scatters abroad bright sparks of fire. 

But it always happens that we hear the sound of t\\(t thun- 
der some time after we perceive it lighten,' because objects, 
which affect the hearing, always come more slowly to the ears, 
than those, wliich affect the sight, arrive at the eye. This you 
may easily understand from the following instance. If you 
observe a man at a distance cutting down the trunk of a tree 
with an axe, you will see the stroke itself before the noise of 
the stroke makes any sound in the air. So, too, we see the 
lightning before we hear the thunder, which, however, is 
emitted at the same time with the flash, and produced from 
the same collision of the clouds. 

Clouds, likewise, sometimes tinge the parts around with 
swiftly-diffused light, and the storm gleams with tremulous 
ardour, from the following cause : when wind has penetrated 
a cloud, and, rolling about within it, has made the cloud (as 
I showed above) become hollow in the middle, and condensed 
round about, it acquires heat by its own activity, as you see 
all bodies glow when made warm by motion ; and a ball of 
lead, from being whirled ^ through a long space, even melts. 
This hot wind, accordingly, when it has burst a dark cloud 
suddenly scatters atoms of heat, which are, as it were, driven 
out by its violence, and Avhich cause the vibrating gleams of 
the lightning. Then follows the noise, which affects the ear 
more slowly than the beams which come to our eyes' strike 

^ But — we hear the soutid of the thunder some time after we perceive 
it lighten, &;c.] Ver. 164. "The flash of lightning succeeds the noise 
of the thunder, but is perceived before it, because the sense of seeing 
is quicker than that of hearing." Aristotle, Meteor, b. ii. "The 
true reason is, that the appearances of visible objects are always 
ready for the sense; but with sounds it is otherwise; for unless 
bodies are struck or dashed together no sound is produced.'' Faher. 

^ From being whirled.] Ver. 179. Glmis etiam Imigo cursil volviinda 
liquescit. "Volvunda, volubilis, vel dum volvitur." Lambimis. 

' Beams which come to our eyes.] Ver. 18K Qum perveniunt octtr- 
lonim ad limina nostra. The limina is Wakefield's, and Lachmann 
calls him inejAiarum atnator for adopting it. All other editions, ex- 
cept Forbiger's and Eichstadt's, have lumina. Oculoriim lumina 
occurs iv. 826, 837; vi. 1180. Lambinusread qu<c perveniunt oculos 
ad lumina nostras, i. e. "lumina quip ad nostros oculos perveniunt." 
But oculorum lumitia is much to be preferred. 

B. VI. 185— 21S. LUCRETIUS. 253 

thetn. This, you will understand, takes place when the clouds 
are condensed, and when they are piled, at the same time, 
high above one another, with extraordinary effect. • 

And do not be misled by the circumstance, that we, from 
below, see more plainly how broad the clouds are, than how 
high they are built up. For observe their appearance, when 
the winds will carry these clouds, resembling great mountains, 
along through the air ; or when you shall see, on the sides of 
high hills, some clouds piled upon others, and those placed in 
the upper region, while the winds are buried in repose, press- 
ing down those in the lower ; and you will then be able to 
comprehend their vastness of bulk, and observe the caverns 
within them, Avhich are formed as it were of hangin"' rocks ; 
and when the winds, at the rising of a tempest, have filled 
them, the winds themselves, being thus confined within the 
clouds, complain with a loud murmuring, and utter threats 
like wild beasts in dens. Sometimes they send their roarings 
in one direction, and sometimes in another, through the clouds, 
and, seeking an outlet, turn themselves about, and roll to- 
gether atoms of fire from the cloudy-masses ; and thus they 
collect many igneous particles, and whirl about the flames 
within as in hollow furnaces, until, the cloud having burst, 
they dart forth with a flash. 

From this cause, also, it happens, that that gleaming golden 
colour of liquid fire fiies down upon the earth ; inasmuch as 
the clouds themselves must of necessity contain many atoms 
of fire ; as, when they are without any moisture, their colour 
is generally fiery and shining. For tliey must receive many 
ignedus particles from the light of the sun, so that they na- 
turally look red, and send forth fire. When, therefore, the 
wind, driving them along, has thrust, compressed, and con- 
densed them into one place, they pour forth the atoms of fire, 
which are squeezed out, and which cause the colour of flame 
to shine through the ski/. 

It likewise licrhtens when the clouds in heaven are rare- 
fied. For when the wind gently divides and attenuates them 
as they pass, those atoms, which cause the lightning, must 
fall even in spite of them ; and then it lightens without any 
great terror, or sounds, or commotion. 

' With extraordinary effect.] Ver. 186. Impetc miro. "That is, 
mirdcelcritate, 01- iniro uiijietu." Lambinus. Creech would readagmine. 

254* LUCKETIUS. B. VI. 219—242. 

Of what nature, moreover, ' the lightning consists, its strokes, 
and the signs and marks which are burnt into objects by its 
fire, and which exhale a strong scent of sulphur, sufficiently 
indicate. For these are tokens of tire, and not of wind or 

Besides, lightnings often set on fire the roofs of houses, and 
revel with a swift flame throughout houses themselves. For 
nature has formed this attenuated fire, you may be sure,^ of 
the most minute particles of fiame, and with the subtlest mo- 
tions and atoms, so that nothing whatever can resist it. Pow- 
erful lightning, indeed, passes through the walls of houses like 
sounds and voices ; it passes through stones and brass, and 
melts brass and gold in a moment. It causes wine, also, 
to flow out suddenly from vessels which still remain entire ; 
because, as is evident, its heat, at its contact, easily relaxes 
and expands all the earthen-sub.stance of the vessel -^ so that, 
penetrating into the liquid itself, it actively separates and dis- 
pels the atoms of the wine ; agitating it with its flashing heat 
to a degree which the warmth of the sun seems unable to pro- 
duce in an age; so much moi'e active and forcible is this in- 
fluence of lightning. 

How these lightnings are generated, and become possessed 
of such force, that they can split towers with a stroke, overturn 
houses, tear away beams and planks, demolish and scatter 

abroad the monuments of heroes, deprive men of life, destroy 


^ Moreover.] Ver. 219. Quod super est. " Proinde." Creech. 
^ For nature has formed this attenuated fire, you may be sure, ^c] 
Ver. 225. 

Hunc tibi subtilem cum primis ignibus ignem 
Constituit natura minutis motibus atque 
Corporibus — 
which must be construed, apparently, thus : Hunc subtilem ignem na- 
tura constituit (ex) ignibus cion-primis ?)iiiuctis, minutis being under- 
stood also with motibus and corporibus. But the reading is, in truth, 
absurd. Lambinus edited mobilibusque corporibus, which Lachmann 
has had the good sense to replace. 

' All the earthen-sid)stance of the vessel.] Ver. 232. Omnia — late- 
ramina vasi. Wakefield takes lateramina for latera, sides. But what 
analogy sliall be found to support bim? Scheller, in bis Lexicon, 
says that lateramen is " probably from an obsolete verb, latero, -are, 
from later, {. e. facere ex latcribus," and so may signify " anij thing 
madeof tiles ; lateramina vasis, Lucret. vi. 232, probably ear</iC'«M;are." 
Forbiger justly observes that it is a aVaC \ty6pivov. 

B. VI. 243—274. LUCRETIUS. 255 

whole herds of cattle at once ; and with what power they can 
effect all other things of this kind, I will now proceed to ex- 
plain, nor will I delay you longer with promises.^ 

It must be admitted that lightnings are produced from 
clouds that are dense, and piled high in the air; for none are 
ever emitted from a clear sky, or from clouds that are but thinly 
collected. For doubtless manifest observation shows this to 
be the case ; because, at the time when thunder is heard, the 
clouds are condensed from all sides through the whole atmo- 
sphere, so that we might suppose all the darkness to have left 
Acheron, and to have filled the immense vault of heaven ; so 
formidably, when the dire gloom of storms has collected, and 
when the tempest begins to forge its thunderbolts, does the 
face of black terror impend over the earth from above. 

Over the sea, too, very frequently, a black stormy cloud, 
like a flood of pitch flowing duwn from heaven, so terribly 
descends upon the waters, and rolls onward in such thick 
darkness, and draws with it a black tempest so pregnant with 
thunder and hurricanes, (being charged,too, to the utmost with 
fire and wind,) that even 7nen upon land shudder and seek 
shelter in their houses. Thus, therefore, we must believe that 
tempestuous-clouds rise high above our heads ; for neither 
could clouds overwhelm the earth with such thick darkness, 
(the sun being wholly obscured,) unless they were built up, 
numbers upon numbers, to a great height ; nor could they, 
when descending in rain, deluge the earth with such vast 
ahowers, as to make the rivers overflow, and the plains a sheet 
of water, unless the atmosphere contained clouds ranged high 
over one another. 

In the air, therefore, at the time of storms, all parts of the 
vlotids are replete with wind and fire ; and thus thunders and 
lightnings are produced. For I have shown above that the 
hollow clouds must contain many atoms of heat ; and they 
must also of necessity receive many from the rays and warmth 
of the sun.^ Thus, when the same wind, which has collected 
the clouds by chance into any one place, has elicited /Vo;« them 

' Delay you longer with promises.] Ver. 245. Neque te in pre- 
missis jjlura morabor. He has already said so much, that there ap- 
pears lo be no cause for this observation. 

'' Rays and warmth of the sun. J Ver. 273. Ez i }/w >-adiii ardorequ* 


LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 275—298. 

many atom^ of heat, am] with that heat has mingled itself, 
the vortex of wind, compressed w^itliin the cloud, whirls itself 
about in it, and sharpens the lightning, as in a hot furnace, 
within its dei)ths. For this tci/id is heated in two ways ; it 
both grows warm by its own motion, and by the contact of fire. 
Then, when the substance of the wind has grown hot of itself, 
or the strong influence of fire has excited it, the lightning, 
bcinff ripe as it were, bursts suddenly through the cloud, and 
the fiery gleam is roused and driven forth,' illumining all 
places with vibrating light ; close vpon which follows the 
awful crash ■^ of thunder, so that the regions of heaven above 
seem suddenly to be disruptured, and to totter. Tremor 
then violently pervades the earth, and murmurs run along the 
lofty skies ; for almost all the stormy air then trembles with 
the shock, and loud noises are sent forth ; after which concus- 
sion follows heavy and abundant rain, so that the whole sky 
seems to l>e turned into showers, and thus, falling precipitately, 
to excite the icaters to a new deluge.^ So mighty a sound issues 
forth from the displosion of a cloud, and from a tempest of 
wind, when the lirihtning ^\e» abroad with its burning impetus. 
Sometimes, too,^ the vehement force of the wind falls upon 
a dense cloud externally, striking on its summit just ripe for 
explosion ;^ and, when it has burst through it, there flies out 
instantly the fieiy vortex*^ which we, in our native language, 

' Is roused and driven forth.] Ver. 283, 4. Fertur — percitus. 
2 Close upon which follows the awful crash, -Sfc] Ver. 285. Quern 
yravis insequitur somtits, <S,c. 

Follows the loosen'd aggravated roar, 

Enlarging, decp'ning, mingling; peal on peal 

Crush'd horrible ; convidsing heaven and earth. Thomson. 

' To excite the iraters to a neio deluge.] Ver. 292. Ad diltivicyn 
revocare. " To call together anew, as it were, the whole body of 
rain, in order to spread a second deluge over the earth." Wakejfield. 

* Sometimes, too, tS'c] Ver. 295. Est etiam, qiiom. "Est quum is 
est quando, as in Greek 'ianv on, equivalent to aliquando and hder- 
dum.'' Lamhinus. 

* On its summit just ripe for explosion.] Ver. 296. Matitro d cul- 
mine. This is Wakefield's reading, and is rendered according to his 
interpretation. Lambiniis, whom Lachmann follows, reads ?naturo 
fulmtne^ i. c. the lightning being ripe for eruption. 

* Fiery vortex.] Ver. 297. Igneiis — Vortex. "He very properly 
adds if/7>eiis, for if it were a vortex without fire, bursting from a die- 
ruptured cloud, it would not he ftilmcn, but what in Greek is called 

B. VI. 298—321. LUCRETIUS. 257 

call lightning. And this is not confined to one point only, 
but extends to other parts, wheresoever the force of the wind 
has diiFiised itself. 

It happens at times, also, that a furious wind, tliough issu- 
ing forth without fire, yet ignites as it goes, in a long space, 
and protracted fliglit ; losing, too, in its course, some of those 
larger atoms which cannot penetrate through the air equally 
with the smaller; and collecting from the air itself, as it flies 
through it, some of those minute particles which, wiieii mixed, 
generate fire ; almost in the same manner as a ball of lend 
very frequently grows hot in its course, when, throwing oil' 
many atoms of cold, it conceives heat in the atmosphere. 

It occurs, moreover, that the force of a mere stroke excites 
fire in a cloud, when a cold blast of wind, darting fortii with- 
out any fire at all, has struck upon it; because, as is evident, 
when the icind has dashed acrainst the cloud with a violent 
impetus, atoms of heat may fiow both from the luind itself, 
and also from that cloudy substance which then receives its 
impact; just as fire flies out when we strike a stone with 
iron ; nor, because the substance of iron is cold, do those par- 
ticles of igneous brightness the less, on that account, flow 
together at the stroke. Thus any substance, likewise^ must 
naturally be kindled by lightning, if it be adapted and dis- 
posed to take fire. Nor can the substance of the wind be 
easily supposed to be altogether cold, considering its rapid 
fiight from the parts whence it was so forcibly discharged 
from above;' for though it be not kindled by heat in its 

Tvipiov, or tKvt(piae." Lambinus. By these words the Greeks meanc 
a hurricane, or perhaps sometimes the wind that produces a water- 
spout. See PHn. N. H. ii. 48, 99. Sen. Nat. Quast. v. 12. It is 
apparent therefore that Lucretius means a fiery wind or Imrricane, 
but 1 have thought it better to retain vortex in the English. 

' Whence it was so forcibly discharged from above.] Ver. 317. 
Nee temere omnino planfe vis frigida venti 
Esse potest : ex quo tanta vi missa superne est. 

Lambinus explains ex quo by ex quo tempore, or ex quo loco, giving 
this turn to the passage : We can hardly suppose the wind itself 
to be quite cold when it strikes the cloud, if we reflect on ti'.e dis- 
tance from which it came, and the rapidity of its descent. — Creech 
interprets, " cum tanto impetu e nublbus emittitur," as if he thought 
that ex quo might be taken in the sense of cum or pro2>terea quod a 
sense which it will, perliaps, bear. 

258 LUCRETIUS. IS. VI 322—349. 

descent before it arrives in these lower regioiis, it yet comes 
to them tepid and mixed witli warmth. 

But the activity and impulse of the lightning are so great 
as you observe them to be, and the thunderbolts in general 
fly with so swift a descent, because the force of the wind, 
when roused, first collects itself fully within the clouds, and 
makes a great struggle to issue forth. Then, when the cloud 
can no longer restrain the increased-violence of its eflbrts, its 
fury bursts out, and flies, accordingly, with wonderful impe- 
tus, like darts which are hurled from powerful engines. 

Add to this, that it consists of small and smooth particles ; 
nor is it easy for any body to withstand so subtle a substance ; 
for it winds and penetrates through the most minute pas- 
sages. It is not, therefore, checked or delayed • by many 
obstacles, and it accordingly flies and spreads with the most 
active swiftness. 

Consider, further, that all bodies universally tend down- 
wards by nature ; and that, when an impulse is added, the 
swiftness is doubled, and the force aggravated ; so that what- 
ever obstacles oppose its poicer, it but the sooner and more 
vigorously scatters them with a stroke, and pursues its own 

Besides, that which comes to the earth with a long flight, 
must acquire speed ; which continually increases^ by progres- 
sion, and augments its vehement impetus, and gives force to 
its stroke. For its velocity causes whatever atoms thei'e are 
in the body, to be borne forward,^ as it were, straight to 
one point, combining them all, as they roll on, in that single 

Perhaps the lightning, too, may, in its passage through the 
sky, attract to itself certain particles from the air, which may 
increase the violence of its strokes. 

And it passes through substances that remain uninjured, 
and penetrates many objects that continue unaltered, because 

' It is not, therefore, checked or delayed.] Ver. 333. Noji — in 
renwrando hcesitat. — Flies and spreads.] Volat lahens. It is observ- 
able that Lucretius has here used impetis and impete, in the fifth 
foot, three times in eight verses. 

- Continually increases.] Ver. S+l. Etlam atqiie etiam cresiii. 
" Semper intcnditur." Creech. 

' Forward.] Ver. Sil. E regione. ' Directo." Lambinus. 

B. Yi. 350-376. LUCRETIUS. 2^9 

the liquid fire finds a passage into them by the pores. AuO 
many bodies it rends asunder, when the atoms of tlie lightning 
strike against the atoms of their substances, where they are 
held in close contexture. 

It moreover easily dissolves brass, and melts gold in a mo- 
ment, because its substance consists of infinitely small parti- 
cles, and of atoms that are smooth, which easily penetrate 
bodies, and, when they have penetrated, suddenly dissolve all 
connexions, and loosen all bonds. 

The vault of heaven,' studded with glittering stars, and 
the whole earth round about, are shaken with thunder in 
autumn, and when the flowery season of spring displays it- 
self, more than at other times. For in winter heat is deficient ; 
and in summer the winds fail, and the clouds are not of so 
dense a consistence. But when the seasons of the year are 
between the two, all the various causes of thunder then con- 
cur. For the intermediate-portion of the year^ blends the 
cold and the heat, both of which are necessary to produce 
thunder for us ; so that, /or the generation of it, there may be 
a discord in things, and that the atmosphere, raging with heat 
and wind, may be agitated with a vast tunndt. For the be- 
ginning of summer, and the end of winter, is the season of 
spring ; from which cause the two dissimilar natures, heat and 
cold, must at that time jar with one another, and produce a 
commotion as they mingle. And the termination of summer 
comes on, meeting the commencement of winter ; at a time 
which is called the season of autumn ; and tlien, too, violent 
colds contend with violent heats. These seasons may, there- 
fore, be styled the War-times of the Year.^ Nor is it 
wonderful if, at these conjunctures, much thunder-and-light- 
ning takes place, and if tumultuous tempests are excited in 
the sky, since there arises disturbance from doubtful strife on 

' The vault of heaven, §-c.] Ver. 357. He now proceeds to ex- 
plain why thunder and lightning are more frequent in spring and 
autumn than at other seasons. 

- Intermediate-portion of the year.] Ver. 364. Fretus ipse mini. 
" By frettis (the same as fretum) anni, Lucretius signifies those 

{)arts of the year which are between the cold of winter and the 
leat of summer ; using metaphorically a word which signifies a 
separation between two portions of the earth." Lambinus. 
* War-times of the year.] Ver. 374. Bella anni. 

& 2 

260 LUCRETIUS. n. vi. 377— iOO. 

citlior linnrl ; heat cnntendin(j on the one side, and winds, 
mi Mailed with rain, on the otlier. 

This is the way to learn the true nature of igneous light 
ning, and to understand ])y wliat power it produces ever^ 
eift'ct ; not to seek for indications of tlie hidden mind of the 
gods, hy turning over, with futile research, the verses of 
Etruria,' superstifioKsly observing whence the fleeting fire has 
come, or to which quarter it has turned itself; how it has 
})enetrated through walled apartments, and how, having exer- 
cised its power, it has extricated itself from them ; or what 
injury the stroke of a bolt from heaven can inflict. 

l>ut if Jupiter, and the other gods, shake the shining re- 
gions of heaven with terrific thunder, and hurl the lightning 
whithersoever each has thouglit fit, why do they not take 
special care that those, who are guilty of reckless and detest- 
able wickedness,^ ™i^y? being struck, inhale the flames of light- 
ning into their pierced breasts, as a bitter warning to mortals? 
And why rather is he, who is conscious to himself of no one 
disgraceful act, involved and overwhelmed, innocent as he is, 
with flames, and carried off" suddenly with a whirlwind and 
fire from heaven ? 

Why, also, if the gods hurl thunderbolts at men, do they 
ever seek solitary places, and labour in vain? Or do they 
then exercise their arms, and strengthen their elbows?^ And 
whv, it may be ashed, do they suffer the weapon of fatlier Ju- 
piter to be blunted against the earth ? Or why does he him- 
self suffer it, and not save it for his enemies ? 

Furthermore, wliy does Jupiter never hurl his bolts over 

' Verses of Etruria.] Ver. 3S1. Tiirrhena carminn. The Etrus- 
cans were famous for auguries and divinations, which are said to 
have been taught them by a man named Tages, who sprung u]) 
among them from the earth. See Cic. de Div. lib. ii., and Ovid 
Met. XV. 558. Tlie rules and precepts of their art were written in 

" Reckless and detestable wickedness.] Ver. 390. fncautum sceltiji 
avcrsahilc. Incaidum scelus is wickedness from whicli men have taken 
no care to abstain, but whicli they have committed in defiance of 
consequences or of the opinion of others. 

^ Exercise their arms, and strengthen their elbows.] Ver. 396. 
Brac/iia consnescunt, firmantque lacertos. Brachium was properlj' the 
arm from tlie wrist to the elbow ; lacertus was the part from the 
elbow to the shoulder. We have no words to distinguish the two 

B. VI. 401—424. LUCRETIUS. 261 

the cartli, and scatter abroad thunder, from a clear sky ? 
Does he ioait till storms threaten, and, when the clouds liave 
spread over the heaven, come down into their vortex,' that lie 
may hence aim the strokes of his weapon yVom a nearer point? 
For what reason, moreover, does he hurl his bolts into the sea? 
Of what does he accuse the waves, and the Avatery flood, and 
the liquid plains ? 

Besides, if he wishes us to guard against the blow of the 
thunder-bolt, why does he hesitate to contrive means that we 
may see it when it is hurled ? But if he desires to overwhelm 
us with his lightning unawares, why does he thunder in tlie 
quarter /ro/rt ivliich he aims, so that we may avoid it? Why 
does he first excite darkness, and noises, and murmurings in 
the air ? 

And how can you believe that he hurls his bolts in various 
directions at the same time ?- Or would you venture to say it 
never occurs that many strokes take effect at the same time ? 
But it has often occurred, and must often occur, that as, m a 
storm, rains and showers fall on many places at once, so many 
thunder-strokes are discharged on the earth at the same mo- 

Moreover, why does he shatter the sacred temples^ of tlis 
other gods, and liis own stately abodes, with his destructive 
lightning ? And whi/ does he break in pieces the well-wrought 
statues of the divinities, and rob his*own images of honour by 
violent disfigurement ? And why does he generally aim at 
high }daces ? at lohich it is evident that he does aim, inasmuch 
as we see most traces of his fire, and see them more distinctly, 
upon the loftiest mountains. 

Furtliermore, it is easy to understand from these observa- 
tions, how t\\o?,Q ph(enomena, which the Greeks from their na- 
ture have called riprjorjjpee,'' sent down from above, descend into 

' Come down into their vortex. ] Ver. 402. In astum descendi*.. 
jEstus is tmnidt, surge. But all editors, except Wakefield and his 
followers, read ipse in eas turn, sc. nubes. 

^ — hurls his bolts in various directions at the same time.] Ver. 
411. "If you say that Jupiter hurls thunderboUs, you will either 
affirm or deny that he hurls them in several places at the same 
time. If you affirm it, how will you make it credible ? If you deny 
it, experience will refute you." Lambiims. 

* Shatter the sacred temples.] Ver. 41(3. Compar" ii. 1101, seq. 

* np?;oT?~/()£e.] Ver. 424. By 7rpi/f77->/p (from -Koii^u). to burn) Lu- 


B. VI. 425— 449 

the sea. For it sometimes happens that they drop, like a 
cohimn let down, from the sky into the ocean ; around which 
cnhimn tlie waters boil, being excited by violent blasts of wind; 
and whatever vessels are then caught in that vortex, are tossed 
about, and incur the greatest danger. This occurs, when 
{as is at times the case) tlie impetuous force of the wind is 
not able to burst a cloud of which it has taken possession, but 
bears it down, so that it becomes, by degrees, like a pillar 
reaching from the heaven into the sea ; as if something Avere 
thrust down from above with a hand, and the force of an arm, 
and stretched into the waters. Hence, when the fury of the 
wind has burst the cloud, it rushes forth into the sea, and ex- 
cites an extraordinary agitation among tlie waves. For t/ie 
blast descends as a rolling whirlwind, and brings down with 
it the cloud, which is of a yielding substance, and not easy to 
he disruptured ; and when it has once thrust the heavy body 
of the cloud into the water of the ocean, it suddenly plunges 
itself wholly into the waves, and disturbs all the sea with a 
mighty noise, forcing it to boil with agitation. 

It happens also, at times, that a vortex of wind' involves 
itself in clouds, gathering up cloudy atoms from the air, and 
imitates as it were a prester sent down from heaven. When 
this vortex, has descended to the earth, and has burst, it vomits 
forth, and tempests abroad, ^ the impetuous fury of a whirl- 
wind. But such a vortex, because it is formed but seldom, 

cretins means a hot or fiery wind, involved in a cloud, which it de- 
pressed towards the earth. If, in its descent, it alighted on the sea, 
it produced what we call a water-spout ; if it came down on the land, 
it was a whirlwind. This was the doctrine of Epicurus; see Diog. 
Laert. x. lOt. The Trpr)art)p might, however, burst from the cloud, 
and scorch or burn any object. Thus, in Xen. Hell. i. 3, 1, it is 
said that the temple of Minerva in Phocaea was burned, Trprjo-r^poe 
kfimaovToc. i. e. having been, as we should say, struck hxj lightning. See 
Plin. N. H. ii. 48 : Quod si majore de])ressge nubis eruperit specu — • 
turbinem vocant, proxima quaeque prosternentem : — idem ardentior 
accensusque dum furit prester vacatur, amburens contacta pariter et 
proterens. See also Sen. Nat. Qucest. v. 13. 

' It happens also, at times, that a vortex of wind, 4re.] Ver. 443. 
In this paragraph Lucretius speaks of wind in a cloud which imi- 
tates or resembles a prester, but which is not fiery. 

^ Tempests oiroac?.] Ver. 447. Procellat. 

Part huge of bulk. 
Wallowing vmwieldy, enormous in their gait. 
Tempest the ocean. Milton P. L. vii. 410. 

B. VI. 450—475. LUCRETIUS. 263 

and because the hills must obstruct its propress on the land, 
appears more commonly in the wide prospeot and open atmo- 
sphere over the sea. 

Clouds are formed, when many atoms of a rough and hooked 
nature, flying in the higher region of the heaven above ?/*, 
have suddenly come together and combined; atoms which, 
though attached onli/ in a slight degree, may yet be held 
united in a body. These first cause small clouds to guther ; 
those small clouds then unite' and are combined with one 
another, and, as they join, swell and are carried along by the 
winds with such violence, that at length a raging tempest 

It occurs, too, that the nearer to any part of the sky tlii 
elevated summits of hills are, so much the more constantly <lo 
they smoke, as it were, with the thick mist of a yellow cloud ;■' 
because, when the clouds first gather, and before the eye can 
discern their thin substance, the winds, carrying them off, col- 
lect them on the highest tops of the hills. Here at last it 
happens, that, when a larger collection is formed, one dense 
and solid cloud seems both to show itself and to rise at the 
same time from the summit of the hills into the clear sky. 
For the nature of the ground itself, and our own perceptions 
as we climb high mountains, demonstrate that breezy emi- 
nences'* are open to the ascent of exhalations. 

Besides, that nature raises many atoms of vapour from the 
whole surface of the ocean, garments suspended upon the shore 
testify ; inasmuch as they contract and retain moisture.^ To 
augment the clouds, therefore, many atoms seem likely to 
arise from the motion of the salt water ; for the nature and 
action of all waters is similar. 

• Those small clouds then unite.] Ver. 456. Inde ea comprenditnt 
inter se. Ea, sc parva nubila. 

^ With such violence, that at length a raging tempest arises.] Ver. 
458. Usque adeo donee tempestas steva cooy-ta est. 

' Thick mist of a yellow cloud.] Ver. 461. Fulvce ntibis caligine 
crassd. Thomson borrows this expression : 

A yellow mist 
Far smoking o'er th' interminable plain. Spring, 193. 

' Breezy eminences.] Ver. 468. Loca sursuni ventosa. 

' Contract and retain moisture.] Ver. 472. Concipiunt humoris adm 
hcEsuni, conceive an adhesion of moisture. — Motion of the salt water.] 
Ver. 474. Salsomumine ponti. 

264 LUCRETIUS. b. vi. 476-496. 

Moreover, we observe mists and vapours arise from all 
rivers^ and from the earth itself also, which, exhaled from it 
like a breath, are in the same manner carried upwards, and 
cover tlie sky with obscurity, and, uniting together by de- 
grees, form clouds high in the air. For tlie influence' of the 
starry heaven above, too, keeps down the vapours, and, con- 
densing them, weaves the blue sky over, as it were, with 

It is possible, likewise, that to this assemblage of chuds'^ 
may come seminal-atoms from without the heaven, which may 
assist to form mists and flying storms. P'or I have sliown 
that the number of primordial-atoms is countless, and tliat the 
extent of the depth o/'5/>r/ce is infinite ;■' and I liave demon- 
strated, too, with how great celerity seminal-particles fly, and 
how instantaneously they have power to pass through an in- 
expressible distance.'' It is not, therefore, wonderful if storms 
and darkness, diff'used from above,'^ cover, in a short time, 
such vast mountains, as ivell as the whole sea and land ; since 
on every side, exits and entrances are allowed to the elemen- 
tal atoms, through all the passages of the air, and, as it were, 
through all the breathing-places of the vast universe around. 

Attend now, and I will explain how rain*' collects in the 
clouds above, and how the showers are precipitated and de- 

' Influence.] Ver. 481. A-^stus. "By cptheria cpstus understand 
those atoms whicli, continually proceeding from the heaven, com- 
press the thin clouds, by impacts upon them, into showers." Creech. 
See the next paragraph. 

^ To this assemblage of clouds.'] Ver. 483. Himc — m ccetum — UK. 
" Illi, scil. vortici, vel nubi." Forbiger. Lambmus reads ilia, agree- 
ing with corpora. 

^ The extent of the depth of space is infinite.] Ver. 485. Summam- 
que profundi Esse infnitam. See i. 957, seq. Of the swiftness of 
atoms, see ii. 141, seq. 

* Inexpressible distance.] Ver. 488. Immemorabile per spatium. 
" AvtKli!jyi)Tov, inexplicabile, immensmn." Faber, ad iv. 193, where 
the same word occurs. 

* Diffused from above.] Ver. 491. Impensa snpeme. " What is 
the exact signification of this word impensa, or whence it is formed, 
is to me not very clear. Lambinus refers it to impendor ; but it ap- 
pears to me that there is nothing common between these two words ; 
and 1 sliould have little hesitation in assigning impensa, as well as 
huspensa,io the root pando ; but in the silence of the old grammarians 
it becomes me to express my susjjicions with modesty." Wakejie'd. 

* Rain.] Ver. 485. Pluvius humor. 

B. Ti. 497—521. LUCRETIUS. 265 

scend upon the earth. In the first place I shall observe,' that 
many atoms of moisture arise, together with the clouds them- 
selves,^ from all tilings on the earth, and that both these sub- 
stances, tlie clouds and the water which is contained in tlie 
clouds, increase together, in the same manner as our body- 
grows together with the blood that is in it, and as sweat and 
other moisture, which are diffused throughout the limbs, are 
autrmented together with them. The clouds, too, when the wind 
drives them over the wide sea, fi'equently attract much mois- 
ture from the salt water, like fleeces of wool suspended in the 
air. In like manner moisture is raised from all rivers into the 
clouds; where, when numerous particles of water have in 
many ways collected, and have been augmented from every 
quarter, the swollen clouds strive for two reasons to discharge 
themselves ; for the force of the wind presses them ; and the 
mass of clouds itself, when a greater body than ordinary has 
united, urges and weighs them down from above, and makes 
the rain flow forth upo7i the earth. 

Moreover, wlien the clouds are rarefied by the wind, or when 
they are dissolved by the influence of the sun's heat from 
above, they forthwith discharge rain ; their moisture distilling 
as wax,^ thoroughly melted, drops over a strong fire. 

But violent rain takes place, when the clouds are vehe- 
mently urged by both forces ; being densely heaped upon one 
another, and pressed by the impetuosity of the wind. 

And rains are accustomed to last long, and to continue for 
a considerable period, when many particles of moisture flow 
together,"* and when there are clouds on clouds-^ heaped one 

• I shall observe.] Ver. 498. Vincam. This verb properly sig- 
nifies, / ipill demonstrate or prove; but as he offers little or no proof on 
the point, I have thought fit to translate it by a lighter word. 

^ Arise, together with the clouds themselves.] Ver. 498. Cotisur- 
gere nuhibus ipsis. I have followed Creech in understanding cum or 
una cum. That clouds do rise from the earth he has already re- 
marked in ver. 476, seq. 

^ They — discharge rain— distilling as wax, <5rc.] Ver. 515. Mittimt 
Jnimorem pluvium ; stillante quasi igni Cera liquescat. This is Wake- 
field's reading. With stillante you must understand, si diis placet, 
" humore." But Lambinus, and all his followers, have stillantque.^ 

* Flow together.] Ver. 520, 522. Fluenter^eruntur . But this is 
a most inconvenient and unsatisfactory construction. For fluenter 
Lambinus \\a% fiierunt, and Lachmann cierunt, either of which makes 
very good sense. 

' Clouds on clouds.] Ver. 521. Nubes 7iimbique. 

266 LUCRETIUS. B VI. .5:2—5.50. 

over another, pouring down water from above, and from every 
part around ; and when the whole earth, fuming unth va- 
pour, sends baclc moisture into the ait. 

Then, when the sun, in the midst of a dark storm, and 
when the rain descends opposite to him, has shone upon the 
shower with iiis rays, the hues of the rainbow appear upon 
the black clouds. 

Other matters, which gather above ^cs, and are produced 
above ^w, and all bodies (all / say, without exception) ' which 
collect in the clouds, as snow, wind, hail, and cold frost, as 
well as the strong power of ice, the great hardener of the 
waters, and the restraint which every where delays the eager 
rivers ; all these, though numerous, it is yet very easy to un- 
derstand, and to comprehend how they are produced, and 
from what cause they arise, when you have thoroughly learned 
what virtues and qualities belong to the atoms which constitute 
their substance. 

Give me now your attention further, and learn what is the 
cause of earthquakes.^ And first, suppose the earth to be 
below, as it is above, filled in every pai't with airy caverns, 
and containing also, in its bosom, many lakes and many pools, 
as well as stones and fissured rocks ; while you must likewise 
suppose that it rolls along forcibly, beneath the surface of the 
soil, many hidden rivers, floods, and submerged rocks ; for 
nature herself requires that the earth be similar to itself 

These points, then, being laid down and admitted, the earth 
quakes on the surface, when it is shaken by great falls of sub- 
stances beneath, as when age brings down vast caverns ; for 
then whole mountains sink, and, from the violent shock, trem- 
blings spread fixr and wide in a moment ; ow effect which we 
may naturally imagine ; since whole houses totter by the side 
of a road, when shaken with waggons, though of no great 
weight ; nor are edifices less agitated^ when the stout drivers 

' All bodies, (all, / s«y, without exception.)] Ver. 528. Omnia, 
prorsum Omnia. 

^ Eartliquakes.] Ver. 535. The opinions which he gives respect- 
ing earthquakes are those of Epicinnis, as well as of Democritus 
and Anaxagoras. See Lauibinus and Faber. 

^ Nor are edifices less agitated, A-c] Ver. 550. iVee minus c.xsultant 
(Tries, ubiqtiomqne rquitum vis, &c. The word cedes is not wanted, as 
tecta precedes. It was an intrusion of Wakefield's, from conjecture. 

B. Yi. 551-568. LUCRETIUS. 267 

of chariots hurry along the street the iron rounds of the 

It happens, also, that when a large mass of earth* rolls 
down, from the effects of time, into a wide and deep pool of 
water, the water is agitated, and the earth, too, trembles with 
the concussion of the flood ; as a vessel of liquid cannot stand 
still upon the ground, unless the liquid, after being shaken, has 
ceased to sway with a rocking motion within it. 

Moreover, when wind, collected in the hollow places under 
the earth, bears strongly from one quarter, and, struggling 
with vast power, crowds into the deep caverns, the earth, to- 
wards the part where the foi'ce of the blast directs itself, 
inclines and gives ivay ; and then the buildings which are 
ei'ected upon the earth's surface,^ sloping and being driven 
from the perpendicidar, lean in the same direction, and so 
much the more as they respectively rise higher into the air ; 
while the beams, being stretched, stand out, as ready to start 
from their places. And do tnen hesitate to believe that a 
time of ruin and destruction awaits the whole fabric of the 
world, when tliey see so vast a mass of the earth give way ? 
Whereas, eve?i now, unless the winds were to remit their fur?/, 
no power could save all things,^ or could hinder them from 

Lamblnus read, Nee minus exidtant ubi exirrus fortis equhm vis, &:c. 
The manuscripts vary, and are unintelligible. Lachmann re-con- 
structs the line thus : Nee minus exultant, et ubi lapi' cunque vidi. In 
the next line, Ferratos utrinque rotcman succutit orbes, I have omitted 
the second word in the translation. 

' When a large mass of earth, ^r.] Ver. 552. He signifies that 
earthquakes may take place from the fall of masses of rocky or 
other matter into bodies of water beneath the surface of the earth. 
^ Then the buildings which are erected upon the earth's surface, 
4rc.] Ver. 561. 

Tum supra terram quae sunt exstructa domorum. 
Ad ccelumque magis quanto sunt edita quseque, 
In clinata minent in eandem, prodita, partem ; 
Protractseque trabes impendent, ire paratae. 
Exstructa domorum, the same as strata viarum, prima virorum, &c. 
In cli?iata minent, says Wakefield, is for clinata itnminent. Prodita, 
he adds, is iov porro data, or projeeta, or TrpoKiifitva. Comp. ver. 606. 
For minetit Lachmann reads meant. 
•■' No power could save all things, ifc] Ver. 568. 

vis nulla refreenet 
Res, neque ab exitio possit reprehendere euntes. 
i. e. vis nulla refrsenet res ab exitio, neque possit reprehendere 
(res) euntes (ad exitium). Lambinus reads. 

26S LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 569-585. 

going to destruction ; but, because they relax and struggle 
by turns, and, as if co\hiCt\ng their force, return to the charge, 
and then retreat as if repulsed ; the earth, on this account, 
oftener threatens ruin than actually suffers it ;' for it inclines 
and starts back, as it tvere, only for a time, and then, making 
an effort with its whole weight, recovers its station.^ From 
tills cause, accordingly, all our houses tremble and reel ; the 
highest more than the middling, the middling more than the 
lowest, the lowest scarcely at all.^ 

There is also this cause of great quaking of the earth to he 
mentioned. When wind, and any vast quantity of air, collected 
eitlier without or within the earth, has suddenly thrown itself 
into hollow places under the ground, it there rages, at first,'' 
with violent fury, among the vast caverns, and rolls and urges 
itself along ; hut at length, when its force is roused and ex 
cited, it bursts forth abroad, and, cleaving the deep soil, forma 
a huge yaioning chasm ; as happened in Syrian Sidon,^ and 

non ulla refrcenet 
Res, neque ah exitio possit reprehendere ermtem, 

i. e. non ulla res refriunet (tervam) ab exitio, neque possit repre- 
hendere (terrain) euiitem (ad exitium). The latter seems prefer- 
able ; for the former draws the mind of the reader away from the 
earth, which is the immediate subject of the passage, to things in 
general. Wakefield justly observes, that Virgil probably had these 
lines in his thouglits, when he wrote, 

Ni faciat, niaria, ac terras, ccelumque profundum, 
Quippe ferant rapidi secum verrantque per auras. 

^n. i. 55. 

* The earth — oftener threatens ruin than actually suffers it.] 
Ver. 572. Sivpius hanc ob rem mmitatur terra ruinas Qiiam facit. 
Earthquakes, and other disorders on the earth, do happen ; but 
not so frequently as circumstances seem to threaten. This seems 
to be the sense of the passage. To refer it to any general destruc- 
tion of the earth, when Lucretius no where hints that any has 
happened, seems to be absurd. Yet Good makes it, 

Earth oftener far is menaced tlian destroy'd. 

* And then, making an effort with its whole weight, recovers its 
station.] Ver. 574. Et recipit j)rolapsa suas iti pondere sedes. " The 
order is, Et prolapsa in (i. e. tv, cum, Sid) pondere, recipit suas se- 
des." Wakefield. 

' Scarcely at all.] Ver. 57G. Perhilum. " PauUum modo, fere 
nihil." Faber. 

* Rages, at first.] Ver. 581. Fremit ante. 

' Syrian Sidon.] V'er. 585. Syria Sidone. This was the old read- 
ing, which, after Lambinus had altered it into Tyria Sidone, Wake- 

B v:. 586-608. LUCRETIUS. 269 

was seen at ^gium in the Peloponnesus ;^ which cities, sncli 
an eruption of air, and an earthquake produced at the same 
time, overthrew and destroyed. Many otlier cities, also, by 
reason of violent earthquakes, have sunk down to the ground ; 
and many cities, with their inhabitants, have been over- 
whelmed in the sea.^ But if the force of the air, and violent 
fury of the wind, do not burst tlirough the soil, they yet 
spread, like shuddering blasts, through the numerous open- 
ings under ground, and thus cause a tremour on the surface ; 
as cold, when it penetrates into our limbs, shakes tliem, and 
compels them to tremble and quiver against our will. Men, 
therefore, in cities, are appalled, on such occasions, with dou- 
ble terror ; for they dread the buildings above them ; and are 
afraid, at the same time, lest the earth should suddenly break 
up-* the depths below, and lest, being disruptured and dis- 
ordered, it should open wide its jaws, and prepare to fill them 
with its own ruins. 

Though men, therefore, think that the heavens and the 
earth will be imperishable, and are intrusted to eternal safety,"* 
yet, at times,' tlie present influence of danger causes in some 
degree the sensation of fear ; a fear lest the earth, suddenly 
withdrawn from beneath their feet, should sink down into a 
gulf; and lest the sum of things, utterly overthi'own, should 
follow it, and onli/ a confused wreck of the world remain. 

I must now proceed to give a reason why the sea knows 

field recalled, observing that Pliny, N. H. xxxv. 51, has " terrfi in 
Syria, circa ifidonem, oppiduni maritimiim." " And," says Forbiger, 
"since geographers (as Strabo, xvi. p. 749, Cas. ; Plin. N. H. y. 
13; Pomp. Mela, i. 11, 1) comprise under the name of Syria, in 
its wider sense, all the lands between Cilicia, Arabia, Egypt, and 
the Tigris, and, consequently, Phoenice, why might not Lucretius 
also have called Sidon a Syriaji city ? " Of this earthquake mention 
is made by Justin, xviii. 3 ; and by Strabo, i. p. 58. 

' At Jigium in the Peloponnesus.] Ver. 585. ^ in Peloponneso. 
TEgium was a town of Achaia, near which stood Helice and Bura, 
which were destroyed by an earthquake. See Ovid. Met. xv. 293, 
ibique Heins. and Burm. ; also Pausauias, vii. 24 ; and Diod. Sic. 
XV. 48. 

^ Have been overwhelmed in the sea.] Ver. 589. Per mare pessum 
Suhsedire. " Pessum, deorsum, et quasi sub pedes." Lambinns. 

3 Lest the earth should suddenly break up.] Ver. 598. Terrai tie 
dissolvat natura. " Terrai natura for Terra ipsa." Creech. 

* Intrusted to eternal safety.] Ver. 602. Mternoe mandata saluii. 

270 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 009-633. 

no augmentation,' In tlie first place, men wonder that nature 
does not necessarily enlarge the ocean, into which there is so 
great a conflux of waters, and into which the rivers run from 
all quarters. But add to the rivers, if you please, the wan- 
dering showers and flying storms, which scatter and discharge 
themselves over all the sea and the earth ; add, if you please, 
the sources of the rivers ; yet all these, compared with the 
vastness of the sea, are but as one drop of water fcr the aug- 
mentation of the whole. It is no wonder, therefore, that the 
mighty ocean is not increased. 

Besides, the sun, by the influence of his heat, draws a large 
portion away from it. For we observe how the sun dries, 
with his burning rays, garments that are drenched with mois- 
ture. But the ocean, we see, is large, and widely extended 
beneath his beams; and although, therefore, the sun may ex- 
hale but a small portion of moisture from each spot on the 
sea, it will yet deduct a large quantity from its waters through- 
out so great an extent of sin face. 

Moreover the winds, — the winds, / say, which sweep the 
ocean, — may carry off a considerable portion of its liquid ; for 
we often see the roads, after being drenched with rain, dried 
in a single night, and a crust of mud, which before %oas soft, 
hardened and congealed upo7i them. 

The clouds, too, I have before shown, take up a large quan- 
tity of moisture, tchich is attracted by them from the vast 
surface of the ocean ; and which tliey sprinkle, in various 
jiarts, over the whole round of the earth, at times when rain 
falls on the ground, and tvhe?i lie winds drive the clouds 
athwart the sky. 

Lastly, since the earth is of a porous consistence, and is in 
contact tvith the sea, encompassing the shores of the deep on 

' Wliy the sea knows no augmentation.] Ver. 608. Cur aur/men 
ncKiat cequor. " To the question, why the sea, into which all rivers 
run, is not increased, Lucretius answers, 1. That tlie sea is so vast, 
that all the water of the rivers, together with all tlie rain that falls 
from the clouds, is hut as a drop to the whole. 2. That the sun ex- 
hales inucli water from it. 3. That the winds carry away niucli, 
4. That the clouds take away a portion. 5. That as tlie rivers run 
into the sea, so tliey i)ass out of the sea, by openings in the earth 
from tlie bed of tlie ocean, to their own sources ; producing a cir- 
culation of water which makes it not at all wonderful that there is 
no increase in the sea." Creech. 

B. Ti. 633—652. LUCRETIUS. 271 

all sides, the water, as it flows from the earth into the sea, 
must likewise pass, reciprocally, from the salt sea into the 
earth ; foi- the salt is strained off, and the pure substance of 
the water flows back into the ground, and collects all together 
at the sources of rivers ; from whence it returns, in fresh 
streams, over the earth, wherever a passage, once cut, has 
conveyed the flood in its liquid course.' 

I shall now explain what is the cause that fires at times 
burst forth, with such tempestuous fury, from the jaws of 
Mount ^tna.'^ For it was not from any divine origin of 
calamity,^ that a storm of fire, rising and raging over the 
fields of the Sicilians, attracted to itself the attention of the 
neighbouring nations, when, observing all the regions of 
heaven covered with smoke, and gleaming tvith flames, they 
felt their breasts filled with awful anxiety, dreading what new 
catastrophe nature might design to produce. 

In contemplating such subjects as these, you must stretch 
your view widely and deeply, and look far abroad in all di- 
rections, that you may remind yourself that the SUM OF THINGS 
is vast, and reflect how very small, how infinitely small a parf* 

' Has conveyed the flood in its liquid course.] Ver. 639. Qua 
via secta semel Uqiiido pede detulit nudas. See ver. 270. 

- Fires — burst forth from the jaws of Mount iEtna.] Ver. 640. 

" He now proceeds to treat of other remarkable phjenomena, wliicli 
might, in the opinion of some, support the notion of the world being 
governed by the providence of the gods. And first, he speaks of tlie 
fire of iEtna, at which, though it lays waste a large portion of Sicily, 
we ought not inconsiderately to wonder, as being beyond the 
powers of nature. Some may think it supernatural, because it is 
vast, but they think it vast, only because they have not seen a 
greater ; nor ought we to wonder at the vastness of any thing, when 
we compare it with the immensity of the universe ; which woidd 
supply atoms for a conflagration that would far exceed those of 
yEtna. Eruptions of this kind are like diseases in the human frame; 
and as the seeds of disease may come into the human body from the 
world in which we live, so they may come into the world from the 
universe ; for if you make a comparison, you may say that as man 
is to this icorld, so is this world to the universe." From Creech. 

' From any divine origin of calamity.] Ver. 6i'l. Neque enim did 
de clade coorta, ^c. Diu de clade is the conjecture of Faber, which 
Havercamp and Forbiger adopted. Wakefield reads, from a con- 
jecture of Isaac Vossius, tnediocri clade ; and Lachmann follows him. 
I certaiidy prefer dia. 

•* How infinitely small a part.] Ver. 652. Qttam multesima. Lam- 
binus compares the expression nmltesima pars with the Gveek ttoX- 

272 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 653—681 

of the whole universe, is this one heaven ; not even so con- 
siderable a part as one man is of the whole earth. Tiiis point 
if you fully consider, and fully understand, rvhen it is fairly 
presented to your mind, you may forbear to wonder at many 
things which now excite your admiration. 

For, in respect to our own bodies, which of us is surprisqd 
if any of his neighbours has contracted a fiiver, that spreads 
through his frame with a burning heat, or has felt any other 
painful disease in his limbs ? Since the foot often swells on a 
sudden ; a sharp pang frequently seizes the teeth, or darts 
through the eyes ; erysipelas arises, and, creeping through the 
frame, burns whatever part it has attacked, and spreads itself 
o\'er tlie lind)s. Nor is it strange that such maladies should 
occur; for there are atoms ready to produce many effects ; 
and this earth and air contain seeds enough of noxious dis- 
ease, from which an abundance of infinite disorder may have 
its growth. Thus, too, we must suppose that, as to our own 
bodies, so to the whole heaven and earth, are plentifully sup- 
plied all hinds of atoms fi'om the immensity of matter, by the 
effects o/" which the earth, being suddenly moved, may quake 
ivith agitatio)!, while a rapid hurricane may rush over sea and 
land, the fire of -^tna may swell forth, and the heaven be in 
a blaze ; for even this happens, even the celestial regions glow 
Avith heat. Thus, too, storms of rain arise with a greater 
combination-of-force, when particles of moisture have in like 
manner chanced to unite themselves. 

"But the raging fire of JfJtna," you ivill say, "is extraordi- 
narily great." Doubtless, / ansicer; and a river, which has 
been seen by any person, appears extraordinarily great to him 
who has never before seen a greater ; and a man or a tree 
possibly appears large to the eyes of some animals; and every 
one imagines every thing of every sort, which is the greatest 
that he has seen, to be extremely large ; although all things 
that he beholds, together with the heaven and the earth and 
the ocean, are as nothing i?i comparison with the entire sum 


I will now, however, explain by what causes the fire of 

\oTroi' /ifpoc, which he observes that Strabo (lib. i. p. 26, ed. Cas.) 
uses in the sense of perexigua tantum pars. 

' Entire sum of the entire whole.] Ver. 680. Summam sum- 
mat toiiiis omnem. 

B Ti 682—709. LUCRETIUS. 273 

-^tna, when suddenly excited, bursts forth from its vast fur- 
naces. In the first place, the fabric of the mountain is hollow- 
underneath, supported, for the most part, by arches of flint- 
stone. In all the caverns, moreover, is wind and air, for air, 
when it is moved by any agitating impulse, becomes wind. 
When this air, then, has grown hot, and has heated all the 
rocks and earth round about, as far as it reaches, and elicited 
from them fire raging with violent flames, it mounts up, and 
thus expels the blaze straight from the jaws of the mountain, 
high into the air, and spreads it far abroad, and scatters tlie 
embers to a great distance, and rolls forth smoke heavy with 
thick darkness, while it darts out, at the same time, rocks of 
a wonderful weight. You cannot, therefore, doubt, but that 
it is the violent force of air which produces these effects. 

Besides, the sea, for a considerable distance, alternatehj 
breaks its waves, and again retracts its tide, at the base of 
that mountain. From this sea caverns extend under ground 
as far as the ascending jaws of the mountain ; by these 
caverns you must admit {^for fact absolutely compels you) 
that blasts of xciiid enter ' and penetrate from the open sea, and 
thus exalt the flame, and cast up rocks, and raise clouds of 
sand. For on the summit of the mountain are craters, as the 
Gi'eek call them, hut which we call jaAvs and mouths. 

There are some pha^nomena, too, ibr which it is not suf- 
ficient to assign merely one cause, but it is requisite to enumerate 
many : of which, however, one only can be the true cause. 
As if, for example, you should see the dead body of a man 
lying on the ground at a distance, you naturally run over all 
the probable causes of his death,- that the one cause of it may 
be sure to be mentioned. For neither, perhaps, can you prove 

* Blasts of wind enter.] Ver. 698. 

hac ire, fatendum est, 
Et penetrare mari, penitus res cogit, aperto, 
Atque efflare foras. 

I have supplied "blasts of wind " in accordance with the notion of 
Good. Creech supposed that not wind, but water, was meant, and lie 
"gives," says Good, "the general interpretation of the editors;" 
but, he adds, " the idea of fire retreating before a body of water, and 
being forced upwards in a perpendicular line to an immense height, 
instead of intermingling with the water, is absolute nonsense." 
^ You naturally run over all the probable causes of his death, S^c.] 



B. VI. 710-723. 

that he died by the sword, nor of the effects of cold, nor by 
disease, nor by poison ; but we know that it is something of 
tliii* destructive nature that has happened to him. This same 
observation we may make in respect to many other things. 

The Nile, the river of all Egypt,' is the only one of all 
streams in the world that swells towards summer, and inun- 
dates the fields. This river waters Egypt, from time to time, 
during the middle of the hot season; and this happefis, possi- 
bly,2 because the north winds, which are said to be Etesian 
winds,^ prevail at that time in the summer over against the 
mouth of the river, and, blowing up the stream, retard it ; and 
thus, forcing the flood up the channel, fill it, and compel the 
waters to stagnate. For without doubt these breezes, which 
come from the cold stars of the north pole, advance against 
the stJ-eam. The river flows from the warm countries, takins 
Its rise from the extreme south, and from the regions of noon- 

Ver. 707. -?"'«< ttt omnes dicere cmtsas coiireniat leti, dicatur tit illins 
una. " Emimerare oportet omnes caiisas." Creech. 

 The Nile, the river of all Egypt.] Ver. 713. " He now speaks 
of the increase of the Nile in the summer; a matter concerning 
which *here was much inquiry among the ancients. Herodotus 
notices and refutes their opinions ; of which, the iirst attributed the 
effect to the Etesian winds ; the second, to the ocean; the tliird, to 
the melting of snow near the upper portion of the stream ; and then 
proposes liis own as a fourth, imputing tlie swell of the river to the 
change oi position in the sun, which, in winter, jiassing over Libya, 
exhales a great quantity of water from the Nile ; but, at the ap- 
proach of summer, retreating to the north, has the same effect on 
the rivers of Greece; so that, according to Herodotus, the Nile 
only seems to increase in summer, when, in reality, it decreases in 
winter. This opinion is opposed by Diod. Sic. lib. i. See also Plin. 
N. H. V. 9; Pomp. Mel. i. 9; and Solin. c. 45." Lambinus. It is 
now pretty generally considered that the inundation arises chiefly 
from the periodical rains, wliicli fall in the tropical regions froiii 
June to September; but that it is partially promoted, at the same 
time, by the Etesian or annual winds, winch blow violently from 
the north-east, and diminish the discharge of water from the river 
into the sea. 

^ And this happens, possibly, Sfc] Ver. 716. Aut quia su7it testate 
aquilo?ies, &;c. The reader of the Latin will see that though this aut 
signifies either, there is no conjunction following it, to allow it to be so 
given in the English translation. I have therefore made a slight 
• Said to be Etesian wi?ids.~\ Ver. "1". Etesia esseferuntur. See v. "41. 

B. VI. 724—738. LUCRETIUS. 275 

day,' amidst the races of mankind bluckeiied wiih sc-orchin;^ 

It is possible, also, that a great collection of sand^ {at times 
when the sea, excited by the wind, drives the sand within the 
bed of the river) may cause obstruction'' at the mouth of the 
stream to the waters coming towards it. By this means it 
may happen that the outlet of the river may be less free, and 
that the current of the water, likewise, may be rendered less 

It is also possible, perhaps, that rain may fall more abund- 
antly near its source, at the very time when the Etesian winds 
from the north drive all the clouds into those parts. For 
when the clouds, impelled towards the regions of the south,'"' 
have collected there in a body, they are at last pressed and 
driven against the lofty mountains, and compelled by the force 
of the wind to discharge their waters. 

Perhaps, too, it may have its increase entirely from the 
high hills of the Ethiopians, at the time when the sun, shining 
on all parts of them, forces the white snow, with his dissolving 
rays, to descend in a flood upon the plains. 

' From the regions of noon-day.] Ver. 72 1. Media ab regione did. 
Tliat is, ab regione medii diei, or ab regione meridiei. See ver. 733. 

^ Races of mankind blackened with scorching heat] Ver. 723. 
Infer nigra viriim percocto scccla calore. This is according to Wake- 
field. It is strange that any man in his senses should have fixed 
such a reading in his text. Percoctus means parched, scorched, but 
what is percoctus calor, scorched heat? Lambinus read percoctaque 
smcla calore, which is intelligible ; and Lachmann gives percocto scecla 
colore, which is equally intelligible, and approaches nearer to the 
manuscripts. I have rendered it scorching heat, to put some sense into 
the line. The same words occur again in ver. 1108. Sil. Italicus, 
xviii. 633, has incocti corpora Mauri. 

^ Collection of sand.] Ver. 725. He now suggests another cause, 
which is also noticed by Pomponius Mela, i. 9. 

* Cause obstruction, <Sfc.] Ver. 72(j. Possit — Fhtctibus adversis oppi- 
lare ostia contra. " Oppilare," says Lambinus, "is to obstruct like a 
number of pillars or columns ranged in opposition." The construc- 
tion is, oppilare, to offer ohstrixction, Jiuctibus adversis, to tlie adverse 
waters of the river, (i. e. to the waters of the river coming down 
against the sand,) contra ostia, opposite the mouth. Scheller, in his 
Lexicon, referring to this passage, cites merely " oppilare ostia,"' 
which might lead the reader to suppose that oppilare governs ostia t 
but Lambinus rightly observes that oppilare is here used absolutely. 

* Inipelled towards the regions of the south.] Ver. 733. Ad medium 
regionem ejecta diei. See ver. 724. 

T 2 

276 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 739^-758. 

Give me now your attention, and I will show with what 
nature owe/ quulities tlie ret^ions and lakes, which are culled 
Avernian,' are distinguished. 

In the first place, as to the circumstance that they are 
named Avernian, that name has been given them from their 
pecvliar proporty, inasmuch as they are destructive to all 
hinds o/' birds; and because, when any of the feathered tribe 
have, in their flight, come over against those parts,^ forgetful 
of tlieir steerage, they relax the sails of their pinions, and, 
sinking down with powerless neck, fall headlong on the ground, 
if, perchance, the nature of the parts beneath allow them to fall 
thus, or into the water, if a lake of Avernus happen to be 
stretched under them. Such a spot is near Cumce, where the 
hills smoke from being charged with vivid sulphur, and 
abounding with hot springs. 

There is also a place within the walls of Athens, on the 
very summit of the hill, close by the temple of bountiful 
Tritonian Pallas, to which the hoarse crows never direct tlieir 
flight; not even when the altars smoke with offerings. So 
carefully do they avoid, not the violent wrath of Palhis on 
account of watchfulness,^ as the poets of the Greeks have 
sung, but the fumes of the sulphur; for the nature of the 
place produces this effect of itself. 

There is also reported to be a place in Syria, plainly to be 
seen,* to which as soon as four-footed animals have directed 

• Regions and lakes tohich are called Avernian.] Ver- 739. Aver- 
na — I'ca. Loca Averna, i. e. aoQva, or without birds, as being so 
noxious to birds that they cannot live in the air above them. It is 
to be observed that Lucretius is not speaking of one particular Aver- 
nus, but of such places in general. He specifies one near Cumae in 
Italy; one at Athens; and one in Syria. All his remarks hav; 
reference to these places as far as ver. 840. 

- Have — come over against those parts.] Ver. 743. E regione ea 
qvod loca quom vetiere. " i. e. cum e regione (ad) ea loca venere." 

^ Not the violent wrath of Pallas on account of watchfulneis.] 
Ver. 754. Non iras Palladis acres Pervigill causa. The crow is called 
invisa Minervce, (Ov. Am. ii. 6, 35,) because, as tlie fable tells, having 
watched tln-ee damsels, (Pandrosos, Herse, and Aglauros, to whoni 
she had intrusted Erictlionius, with injunctions not to open the chest 
in which lie was concealed,) she informed the goddess that they 
had disobeyed her orders. Why Minerva was so much offended at 
this does not appear ; but the crow, it seems, ever afterwards 
Blnuined her and her temples. See Ov. .Met. ii. 542. sea. 

iVa/;i7y to be seen.] Ver. 757. Videri, ^'"HurilSfaQni." Lambintu, 


B. VI. 759- 786 LUCRETIUS. 277 

their steps, the very nature of it causes them to fall heavily 
on the earth, as if they were suddenly made a sacrifice to the 
infernal deities. 

But all tliese things are effected by the operation of nature ; 
and the origin of them, and from what causes they arise, is 
apparent. So that the gate of Tartarus must not be thought 
to be situate in these regions, nor, moreover,' must we imagine 
that the infernal deities can possibly draw souls down from 
hence into the coasts of Acheron, as swift stags,- with tlie 
breath o/" their nostrils, are often supposed to draw the crawl- 
ing tribes of serpents from their hiding-places. But observe, 
I pray you, how far all this is at variance with just reasoning ; 
for I now proceed to give you a full explanation concerning 
this very subject. 

In the first place, I assert this, (which I have also fre- 
quently asserted before,^) that there are in the earth all kinds 
of forms of the atoms of things ; of which there are many that 
are wholesome for food, and many that may bring on disease 
and hasten death. We have also previously shown* that for 
different animals, with regard to the sustenance of life, some 
substances are better adapted than others, on account of their 
dissimilar natures, and opposite constitution one to the other, 
and the primaiy figures of their seminal-particles. Many 
noxious atoms pass through the ears ; many tJiat are offensive 
and harsh to the sense penetrate through the nostrils; nor 
are there few only ichich are to be avoided by the touch, or 
shunned by the sight, or which are bitter to the taste. 

You may notice, too, how many things are of a violently 
pernicious influence on mankind, both disagreeable and deadly. 
To certain trees, we may first observe, has been assigned a 
poisonous shade,* so that they often cause pains in the head, if 
any one lies stretched on th .■ grass beneath them. 

' Moreover.] Ver. 764. Post, i. e. deinde, as Wakefield, whose 
reading it is, interprets. Possibly, in the next line, answers to forte 
in the original. 

- As swift stags, ^c] Ver. 766. In reference to this notion see 
Pliny, N. H. ii. 53; Oppian, Cyneg. ii. 233; ^Elian, de Anim. ii. 9. 

^ Which I have also frequently asserted before.] Ver. 770. See 
ii. 333. 

* Previously shown-] Ver. 775- See iv. 634; v. 896. 

* Poisonous shade.] Ver. 784. Gravis umbra. Pliny attributes 
this property to the walnut and the box-tree. H. N. xvii. 12, and 

278 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 787- 800. 

There is likewise on the high mountains of Helicon a tree,* 
which has been known to kill a man by the malignant odour 
of its blossom. AH these destructive substances, you will un- 
derstancl, spring from the ground, because the earth contains 
many seeds of many things mingled in many ways, and dis- 
tributes them separately to different productions. 

And when a night taper, just extinguished, ^ strikes a -per- 
son! s nostrils with a pungent odour, it takes away his senses, 
so that he falls down on the very spot ; as when that disease 
takes effect'^ which is accustomed to stretch men at full length. 

And a woman, overcome witli the strong .yc^n^ o/" castor,'' if 
she has smelt it at the time at which she discharges her 
menses, falls backward, and her elegant work drops from her 
tender hands. 

And many other things relax the organs, causing them to 
languish throughout the body, and disturb the soul in its seat 

Besides, if, ivith a stomach too full, you even stay long in a 
warm bath, or are drenched in a laver of tepid water,^ how 

xvi. 10. Some such quality seems to have been thought to belong 
to the shade of the juniper ; for Virgil says, Juniperi gravis umbra: 
Eel. X. 76. The Manchineel tree of the West Indies, and the Upas 
of Java, were then unknown to Europeans. 

' On the high mountains of Helicon a tree.] Ver. 787. "What 
tree this is, I shall leave for others to divine. Some suppose it to 
be the yew ; but why should he send us to Helicon for a yew, which 
is to be found any where in Italy? And to say tliat the yew will 
kill loith the odour of its blossom is not true." Fabcr. 

^ A night taper, just extinguished.] Ver. 792. I know not who 
has seen an example of this assertion. Good quotes, from Smellie's 
Philosophj' of History, vol. i., the following instance of a different 
sensation from the same odour. " I knew a gentleman who was in 
the daily habit of ligliting and putting out candles, that he might 
enjoy the pleasure of their smell." "The effluvia of musk," says 
Busby, " as also of cheese, perhaps, and other esculents, will power- 
fully affect females, especially wlien they are under the circum- 
stances alluded to by the poet." 

' As when that disease takes effect, <Src.] Ver. 794'. Ut pronos qui 
morbus mittere suevit. "You may reasonably interpret it the morbus 
comitialis, or falling sickness." Creech. 

* Strong scent of castor.] Ver. 795. Castoreoque gravi. " Casta- 
reum, a liquid matter enclosed in bags or purses, near the anus of 
the castor, falsely taken for his testicles." Chambers's Diet. 

" Warm batli — laver of tepid water.] Ver. 800. The one refers 
to the public baths, the other to bathing at home. 

B. VI. 801—810. LUCRETIUS. 279 

easily may it often happen that you may fall d.o\\n fainting in 
the middle of it! 

And how easily does the oppressive vapour and scent of 
charcoal find an entrance into the brain, unless we have first 
taken a draught of water I ' But when it has penetrated ^ 
through all the well- warmed apartments of a house, the odour 
of wine then falls like a deadly blow upon the nerves. 

Do you not observe also that sulphur is produced in the 
earth itself, and that bitumen, with its oifensive smell, forms 
concretions in it ? When, moreover, men seek for veins of 
silver and gold, searching the hidden depths of the earth with 

' Unless we have first taken a draught of water.] Ver. SO*. Nisi 
aquam prcecepinMs mite. Ante, first, i, e. "before the odour of the 
charcoal can penetrate into the brain." Lambinus. 

* But when it has penetrated, §-c.] Ver. 805, 806. These versea 
and the two preceding, stand thus in Forbiger and Eichstadt: 

Carbonumque gravis vis atque odor insinuatur 
Quam facile in cerebrum, nisi aquam prsecepimus antfe. 
At cum membra domus percepit fervida, nervis 
Turn fit odor vini plagse mactabilis instar. 

(In Wakefield's edition the word At begins a new paragraph.) It is 
therefore fair to suppose that Forbiger and Eichstadt referred percepit 
to carbonum odor ; and I have translated the passage accordingly. 
Wakefield evidently referred it to odor vini; quum odor vini per- 
cepit membra domus, turn fit (idem odor) plaga; mactabilis instar. 
And thus his follower Good renders it : 

While the foul gas, that from fermenting must 
Springs, like a blow deep stuns us with its force. 

Good had doubtless referred to Wakefield's note, where a passage 
from Gronovius (Obs. iii. 5.) is quoted, who would read mustum in- 
stead of nervis. As for Lambinus and his party, they read, 

At ciim membra hominis percepit fervida febris, 
Tum fit odor vini plagae mactabilis instar ; 

which Creech rendered by the audacious couplet, 

To those whom fevers burn, the piercing smell 
Of vigorous wine is grievous, death and hell. 

Lachmann reads, 

At cum membra domus percepit /erwjtfior vis 
Tum fit odor viri plagae mactabilis instar. 

Viri, from viriis, poison, referring to the charcoal. This may be 

280 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 811-829. 

iron instruments, how strong an odour does the mine' exliale 
from beneath ! 

Or Itave ijou net learned how much poison is in the earth 
for gold mines to exhale P^ What sort of looks and com- 
plexions do they produce in the men loho work in them'? Do 
you not remark, or hear from others, in how short a time 
they are wont to waste away, and how length of life is neces- 
sarily withheld from those whom superior power confines in 
such an employment ? The earth, evidently, steams forth all 
these vapours, and breathes them out into the regions of the 
air, which are open and ready to receive them. 

So, likewise, the regions of Avernus must send up from 
beneath a vapour destructive to birds ; a vapour which 
ascends from the earth into the air, in such ahundance as to 
poison the body of the atmosphere to a certain extent. So 
that, as soon as a bird has been borne thither on its wings, it 
is there stopped, being so violently affected by the invisible 
poison, that it drops down over against the spot where tlie 
exhalation raises itself. And when the bird has fallen there,' 
this same force of the exhalation takes away the remains of 
life from all its members. For at first it only excites, as it 
were, a certain giddiness in the birds, but afterwards, when 
they have fallen from on high on the very sources of the 

' Mine.] Ver. 811. Sca})tens%ila. It is a word formed from aKair- 
Tog, ij, 1)1', (from mcdTrrtiv, to dig,) and v\ri, matter, siKiiifying' material 
for digging, or material dag up. Lambinus thinks that it should be 
written without the n, and he seems to have reason on his side. 
Festus says that it was the name of a place in Macedonia, remark- 
able for its mines; and Faber observes that it hence became a ge- 
neral name for a mine. 

- Or have you not /eartied how much poison is in the earth for gold 
mines to exhale?] Ver. 812. Quidve mali fit, ut exhalent aurata me- 
tallaf " Meaning," says Wakefield, " what poisonous matter tliat 
is, from which gold mines emit such exhalations ? " 

* And when the bird has fallen there, iSfc] Ve<-. 825. 
Quo cijm corruit hasc eadem vis illius sestCis, 
Reliquias \'\ive membris ex omnibus aiifert. 
Thus are the lines pointed in Forbiger and Wakefield ; but I rcn- 
sider, with Creech, that there ought to be a point after con-w//, whicli 
is to be referred, not to the vapour, but to the bird. When the bird 
has fallen down, the vapour deprives it of life. It is observable 
that Lucretius here uses CBstus at the end of three verses out of 
four ; in the first two places it signifies the Avernian vapour ; in 
the third, giddiness in the birds. Comp. iv. 1020. 

a. VI. 830— 855. LUCRETIUS. 281 

])oison, it comes to pass that they must there yield up even 
their Hfe, because a vast quantity of the poisonous-ftT/<o/a^/o/i 
suri'ounds them. 

It happens also, at times, that this vapour and exhalation 
of Avernus disperses the air which intervenes between the 
birds and tlie earth, so that that portion of the atmosphere is 
left, from this cause, almost empty. And when the birds, in 
their flight, have come over against this part, the effort of their 
wings immediately halts and groics ineffectual, and every 
struggle of their pinions, on either side, is unsupported. 
Thus, when they are unable to flap their wings, or to rest 
upon them, nature, you will understand, compels them to de- 
scend to the earth by their own weight, and accordingly, sink- 
ing doion through the part which is almost a vacuum, they 
disperse abroad their lives through every pore of the body. 

Water' in wells,' moreover, grows cooler in summer, and 
for this reason, that the earth is then rarified by the heat, and 
emits rapidly into the air any atoms of warmth which it may 
happen to contain. The more, accordingly, the earth is ex- 
hausted of its heat, the cooler, also, does the water become 
which is concealed under-ground. And on the contrary, too, 
when the eartli is contracted, and condensed, and congealed, 
as it were, with cold, it happens that, as it contracts, it dis- 
charges into the wells whatever heat it contains. 

Near the temple of Jupiter Ammon,^ there is said to be 
a fountain which is cold in the day and warm in the night. 
At the peculiarity of this fountain men greatly wonder, and 
imagine that the earth is heated, in its turn,^ by the power of 
the snn from beneath, during the time when night has covered 
tlie earth with its awful darkness ; a supposition which is too 
much opposed to just reasoning. For since the sun, striking 
on the uncovered body of water at noon-day, when the rays 

' Water in wells.] Ver. 841. Having concluded his remarks on 
tlie Avernian regions, he proceeds to account, from natural causes, 
for other phsenoniena. 

■^ Near the temple of Jupiter Amnion, <S|C.] Ver. %\^. This foun- 
tain is described by Pliny, H. N. ii. 103; Pomp. Mela, i. 8; and 
Quintus Curtius, iv. 7. Reference is also made to it by Ovid. Met. 
XV. 309, and by Silius Italicus, iii. 669. Its warmth was doubtless 
supplied by subterranean fire, but for its alternations of heat and 
cold no cause has been assigned. 

Mn its turn.] Ver. 852. Partim. " Vicissim." Wakefield, 

2R2 LUCRETIUS. K. VI. 856- S86 

from above are possessed of such violent heat, cannot make 
it warm eveti on the surface, how can this same sun act upon 
the water, and infuse inio it his quickening heat, from 
beneath the earth, which is of so dense and solid a consist- 
ence? Especially when he can scarcely make his warmth, 
by means of his glowing rays, penetrate through the walls 
of houses. 

Wliat, then, is the cause? It is evidently this: that certain 
ground, less dense than the rest of the ground, encircles this 
fountain ; and that there are many atoms of heat near the 
body of water. Hence, when night covers the earth with its 
dewy sliade, the ground underneath immediately becomes 
cold and contracts. By this process it happens that the soil, 
as if it were compressed with the hand, discharges into the 
fountain whatever atoms of heat it contains, which make the 
water warm to the touch, ^ as well as the steam of it. After- 
wards, when the sun, with his morning rays, has relaxed and 
rarefied the earth, (as his active heat mingles with it,) the 
atoms of heat return again into their former places, and all 
the warmth of the water passes into the ground. From this 
cause the fountain becomes cold in the day-time. 

Besides, the water is acted upon by the rays of the sun as 
the day comes on,^ and is rarefied by the tremulous heat of 
his beams. It accordingly happens, that whatever particles of 
heat it contains, it disperses ; as wafer often dispels the cold 
which it contains, and dissolves its ice, and relaxes its fetters. 

There is also a cold spring at Dodona,^ over which when 
tow is placed, it frequently, catching fire at once, throws out 
flame ; and in like manner a torch, lighted at its waters, casts 
a radiance, Avherever it swims or is impelled by the winds over 
the surface; the cause evidently being, that there are in the 
water many atoms of heat ; and particles of warmth must also 
arise from the earth itself over all the bottom of the fountain, 

 Make the water warm to the touch.] Ver. 869. Calidum facmnt 
laticls tactum. Make the touch of the water warm. 

* As tlie day comes on.] Ver. 876. Inlucem. Towards day. Comp. 
in cestatem, towards summer, ver. 713. 

' Cold spring at Dodona.] Ver. 880. " Having shown that there 
is nothing divine in the fountain of Jupiter Ammon, he proceeds to 
make a similar assertion with regard to the fountain of Jupiter Do- 
donjEus." Creech. I have added " at Dodona " in the text, where 
Pliny, H. N. ii. 103, describes the foimtain as being situate. 

B. vr. 887—909. LUCRETIUS. 283 

and be exhai<6<i and pass forth, at the same time, into the nir ; 
yet these particles must not be so vivid as that the spring can 
be rendered hot by them. 

Besides, some powerful influence excites those atoms of heal, 
when dispersed abroad, to burst suddenly upwards through 
the water, and to combine on the surface; as, in the sea around 
Arados,' there is a spring of fresh water which bubbles up 
through it, and puts aside the salt waves around it. And in 
many other places the sea affords a seasonable relief to thirsty 
mariners, inasmuch as it casts up fresh water among the salt. 
Thus, too, those atoms of heat may burst up through that foun- 
tain oftvhich tve have spoken, and diffuse themselves abroad 
among the tow ; which atoms, when they combine together, 
or adhere to the substance of the tow or torch, easily take 
fire at once ; because tow and torches contain likewise many 
particles of heat, which may unite with those in the water to 
produce flame. 

Do you not observe, also, that when you hold the wick of 
a lamp^ recently extinguished, to a night taper, it takes fire 
before it touches the flame ? And have you not noticed a torch 
catch fire in like manner? Many other substances, too, 
affected by the mere heat, begin to burn at a distance yVom a 
fire, before its flame closely involves them.^ Such, therefore, 
we must conceive to be the case with respect to that fountain. 

In the next place, I shall proceed to show by what law of 
nature it happens that the stone, which the Greeks call a 
magnet,'' from the name of the region that produced it, (for 

' In the sea around Arados.] Ver. 891. Indu mari Aradio. Arados 
was a town, built on an island of the same name, on the coast of 

- Wick of a laynp.'] Ver. 901. Linum. There is no doubt that this 
is the meaning of the word linum in this passage. 

" When, just extinct, the taper we apply 
To one full blazing." Good. 

' Closely involves them.'] Ver. 905. Imbiiat. 

* Magnet ] Ver. 908. Magnesia was a region in Lydia, of which 
the inhabitants were called Magnetes ; and from them, according to 
Lucretius and others, the magnet was named. Others say it had 
its name from Magnes, a young man, who, walking over some stones, 
found himself held fast by the iron attached to his shoes, and thus 
first discovered the power of the magnet. See Plin. H. N. v. 29, 
xxxvi. 16. This dissertation on the magnet continues to ver. 1089. 

284 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 910—941 

it was first found in the country of the Magnetes,) has the 
power to attract iron. 

At this stone men look with astonishment, for it often ex- 
hibits a chain of little rings suspended from it. Since you 
may at times see five or more, hanging in a straight line, 
oscillate in a gentle breeze, whilst one depends from another, 
attached to it underneath ; and wJiilst they feel from each 
other the influence and attraction of the stone ; so thoroughly 
does its force pervade the whole succession of rings. 

In matters of this kind, you must establish many points be- 
fore you can state the principle of the thing itself ; and I 
must, accordingly, approach the subject by a long circuit of 
introductory remarks ; on which account I entreat your atten- 
tive ear and fcwourable regard. 

In the first place, from all bodies,^ whatsoever we behold, 
there must necessarily flow, and be emitted and dispersed, 
certain substances which strike the eye and excite vision ; 
odours, too, are perpetually flying off from some bodies ; as 
cold is also diffused from rivers, heat from the sun, spray 
from the billows of the ocean, which consumes walls near 
the shore ; nor do various voices cease to flit through 
the air ; moreover the moisture, so to speak, of a salt taste 
comes often into the mouth wlien we are walking near the 
sea ; and when we look at diluted wormwood being mixed, a 
bitterness affects oiir palate. So evident is it that a certain 
substance is carried off perpetually from all bodies, and is dis- 
persed in all parts round about ; nor is there any delay or 
rest allowed to the efl3ux ; since we constantly perceive it 
with our senses, and may see all objects at all times, and 
smell them, and hear the?u sound. 

Here I shall observe again '■^ that which is set forth in the 
first part of tny poem, namely, of how porous a consistence 
bodies are. For though to understand this is of importance 
to many subjects, it is especially necessary to establish, with 
regard to the very matter immediately under our notice, 
(concerning which I am proceeding to speak,) that there is 

' In the first place, from all bodies, <Sfc.] Ver. 922. Fifteen verses 
are here repeated from iv. 217. 

* Here I shall observe again.] Ver. 937- Repetam commemorare. 
See i. 266. 

B. VI. 942—957. LUCRETIUS. 285 

nothing in theivhole of things hefore us' but body interminfrled 
with vacuity. 

It is apparent, first of all, that in caverns ^ the overhano-ino- 
rocks exude moisture, and distil running drops. From the 
whole of our own bodies, also, perspiration trickles ; our 
beard springs forth from them, and hairs a7-ise over all our 
limbs and members ; the food ichich ive take is distributed 
through all our veins, and swells and nourishes the extreme 
parts of the body, and even the very nails ; we feel cold, too, 
and vivid heat, penetrate through brass ; we feel them like- 
wise pass through gold and silver, when we are holding full 
cups.^ Moreover voices fly through the stone walls of houses ; 
odours, and cold, pervade them; as well as the heat-of fire, 
which has power to penetrate even the substance of iron, as 
is felt where the corslet confines the circuit of the neck.^ The 
infection of disease likewise penetrates ivalls, as it enters into 
ho2ises from without. Philosophers too, with reason, send 
far back again ^ into the depths of heaven and earth, the 

' Before us.] Ver. 9i2. In promtu. "Nihil in rerum natura." 

^ In caverns, 4,e.] Ver. 943. His design, in these observations, is 
to show that in all bodies, however apparently solid, more or less of 
vacuity is intermingled ; and that into the vacua, or empty spaces, 
the atoms of other substances may enter. Our bodies contain vacua^ 
or are porous, for out of tliem perspiration trickles, and through 
them are distributed particles of food ; metals and walls are porous, 
for they admit atoms of heat and cold, of voices and sounds. 
The heavens, and tlie earth in general, are of a similar consistence, 
for they can emit from their sulistance, whilst it remains apparently 
luidiminished, atoms to produce a tempest; and receive them back 
into themselves as the tempest subsides. 

' Holding full cups.] Ver. 951. See i. 49-5, 456. 

* Corslet confines the circuit of the neck.] Ver. 954. 

Ignis; qui ferri quoque vim penetrare suevit 
Denique, qua circum colli lorica coercet. 

This is Wakefield's reading. Lambinus read, Undique qua circum 
corpus lorica coercet. The passage is probably still corrupt. 

* Philosophers too, with reason, send far back again, 4iC-] Ver. 

Et tempestatem terra cceloqne coortam, 

In coelum terramque remote jure facessunt, 

Quandoquidem nihil est, nisi raro corpora nexum. 

This is Wakefield's reading, and is translated according to his ex- 
position. " The atoms of a tempest," says he, " which arise from the 


86 LUCRETIUS. B. VI 9o8— 985. 

. tempest which has burst forth from the earth and the heaven ; 
since they rightly consider that there is no combination of 
matter, ethereal or terrestrial, which is not of a consistence 
far-from-impenetrable to other atoms.^ 

To this is to be added, that all atoms, which are discharged 
from bodies, are not possessed of the same power to affect the 
senses, nw are tliey all alike adapted to all substances. 

The sun, we may first observe, extracts the moisture from 
the earth, and renders it dry ; while it melts ice, and forces 
the snows, piled on the high mountains, to dissolve in the heat 
of its rays. Wax, too, placed in the warmth of the sun, be- 
comes liquid. Fire, moreover, melts brass, and dissolves 
gold, but contracts and draws together the hides and flesh 
of ani)nals. Water, also, hardens iron tchen fresh I'rom the 
fire, but softens hides and flesh when hardened with heat. 
The wild olive tree, than which there is nothing that jfrows 
more bitter to the taste of man, delights the bearded goats as 
if it were flavoured with nectar and ambrosia. SAvine, be- 
sides, shrink from ointment of amaracus,'^ and dread every kind 
of perfume ; for that which seems, at times, to restore us, as 
it were, to life, is to bristly boars strong poison. But mud, 
on the contrary, which is to us most repulsive filth, seems 
clean and attractive to swine, so that they roll themselves 
over atid over in it without being tii'ed. 

There is this, likewise, which remains to be noticed, and 
which seems necessary to be stated before I proceed to speak 
of the exact subject before us. Since in various bodies are 
situated many pores, these pores must be distinguished by na- 
tures diffxiring from one another, and have respectively their 
own forms and shapes.^ For there are various senses in ani- 

heaven and earth, are into the heaven and earth received back again." 
^Vith facessunt, which sadly wants a nominative, he underst-inds 
plillosophi, and takes remote facessimt in tlie sense of send far back. 
I^ambinus and Creech have another lection, which, however, does 
not much alter the sense. 

' Far-froni-inipenetrable to other atoms.'] Ver. 959. I have ren- 
dered rnro hy far-from-impenetrable. See on ver. 943, 947- 

- Swine — shrink from ointment of amaracus. J Ver. 97-1'. Amara- 
cimun fugitat sus. " V'etus adagium est, niliil cum fidibus graculo ; 
nihil cum amaracino stti." Aul. Gell. Pref. 

* Their own forms and sha])es.] Ver. 981. Suamnaturam — riasqtic. 
A.11 pores must have their own vue by which they allow atoms to 

B. VI. 9S6— 1014. LUCRETIUS. 287 

mals, of which each perceives for itself its own peculiar object ; 
since we observe that by one sense sounds penetrate into u^, 
by another taste from the juices of food, by another the smell 
of perfume. Besides, one thing seems to pass through stone, 
another through wood, another through gold. One subsfa?ice 
seems to penetrate silver, and another glass ; for through the 
latter images seem to pass, and through the former heat. 
One thing, too, seems to penetrate through the same passages 
quicker than another. This difference, you may be certain, 
the nature of the passages obliges to exist ; since it evidently 
varies (as we showed a little above) according to the different 
consistence and texture of bodies. 

For which reason, since all these points are established and 
laid down, and every thing prepared and made ready for us, 
the principle of the magnet will hence, moreover,' be easily 
shown, and the whole cause, which attracts the substance of 
the iron, will be made manifest. 

In the first place, many atoms, or efHuvia, must necessarily 
fly off from the stone, which, by their impact, disperse the 
air that is situate betwixt the stone and tlie iron. When this 
space is emptied, and a large void is made between them, 
atoms of the iron, immediately darting forward, rush in a body 
into the vacuum ; and the whole ring of necessity follows, and 
passes onward with its whole body. For no substance coheres 
and combines more closely, — having its primary-elements in- 
timately involved, — than the cold and rough consistence of 
stout iron.'^ It is therefore the less wonderful, if (as is 
stated) certain of its atoms,^ starting forth in a body from the 
iron itself, cannot rush into the void without the whole ring 
following ; which it does, and continues to move until it has 

enter them; i.e. their own shapes. " Propriam figuram, propri- 
amque circumscriptionem." Creech. Conip. iv. 651, seq. 
^ Moreover.] Ver. 999. Quod superest. 

* Cold and rough consistence of stout iron.] Ver. 1010. Validi 
ferri natiircE frigidus horror. Horror means roughness, as horreo, to he 
rough. Good translates the verse ludicrously enough, tJie cold steel, 
all horror to the touch; and, having picked up from Wakefield's notes 
Turn ferri rigor, (Virg. Geo. i. 143,) he translates it, at the foot of his 
page, still more hidicrously, "The steel's chill shudder." What is 
the shudder of steel f And was steel all horror to Dr. Good's touch? 

* Certain of its atoms.] Ver. 1011. Ex elementis corpora, i. e. 
(Quaedani) coipuscula ex (annuli) corpusculis. Lambinus and 
Lachuiaun have other readings. 

28S< LUCRETirS. E. VI. 1015—1042. 

reached the stone itself, and has l)ecome fixed to it by secret 
attachment. The same process takes place on all sides ; and 
wherever an empty space is formed, whether at the side of the 
iro?i or above it, the nearest atoms tend immediately into the 
void. For they are impelled by impacts from other surround- 
ing atoms ; nor can they, of themselves, rise upwards, or pass 
away from tJie Dinynet, into the air. 

To tliis is to be added another reason why this motion of 
the atoms may still more certdinli/ take place ; vamebj, that as 
soon as tlie air before the ring has become thinner, and the 
space between it and the magnet more vacant and open, it 
immediately happens that the air which is situate at the back 
of the ring, carries it forward, as it were, and impels it from 
behind. For the air surrounding all bodies continually strikes 
upon them; but the air that surrounds the iron drives it for- 
ward at such times as it approaches the magnet, because the 
space on one side is empty, and receives it into itself. And 
this air too, of which I am speaking, subtilly conveying itself, 
through the numerous pores of the iron, into its small recesses, 
thrusts and pushes it forward. This substance of the iron, 
accordingly, is helped /bnfar<:Z by this assistance and impulse, 
as ships and their sails are driven onwards by the wind. 

All bodies, moreover, must contain air in their substance, 
since their consistence is more or less porous, and air sur- 
rounds and is in contact with every thing. This air, then, 
which is concealed within the iron, is continually agitated 
with a restless motion, and thus, doubtless, strikes upon the 
ring, and moves it, as you may conceive, internally ; and the 
whole air, ivithin and without, tends in the same direction in 
which it has once started, and ichere it has found a vacuum 
to assist its efforts. 

It happens, too, at times, that the substance of the iron re- 
cedes' from this stone, as if accustomed to start back from it, 
and to follow it, by turns. 

* Substance of the iron recedes.] Vcr. 1041. " It happens, too, 
says Lucretius, that the iron at times starts back from the magnet, 
being accustomed sometimes to follow it, and sometimes to flee from 
it : to follow it, when nothing intervenes between the two ; and to 
flee from it, when brass is interp(»sed." Lambi/nts. Gassendi thought 
that Lucretius may have been acquainted with the difference in the 
two ])oles of tlie magnet ; but the poet, sa3s Creech, doubtless had 
no more knowledge than he exhibits. 

D. 71. 1043—1070. LUCRETIUS. 289 

Tluis have I seen iron rings of Samothrace,' as well as 
filinn-s of iron, Jying in brazen basins, thrown into agitation, 
and start up, when the magnet was applied underneath ; so 
that it seerns desirous to flee away from the load-stone, when 
the brass is interposed ; for it is by the intervention of the 
brass that so great an aversion is produced ; since, as is evi- 
dent, when the effluvia of the brass have pre-occupied and 
filled up the open pores of the iron, the effluvia of the stone 
follow, and find all parts of the iron full ; and have no way 
to pass through, as they ivould have had befoi-e. They are 
therefore obliged to strike against the substance of the iron, 
and to drive it upward, with their own stream ; by which 
means the magnet repels from itself, and drives away through 
the brass, that metal, which, without the interference of the 
brass, it most frequently attracts. 

But do not wonder, in the consideration of these subjects, 
that the effluvia from this stone cannot also repel other sub- 
stances. For some substances remain unmoved as being sus- 
tained by their own weight ; of which sort is gold ; and others 
cannot be repulsed, because they are of a porous consistence, 
so that the effluvia pass through them unobstructed ; of which 
kind wood appears to be. The substance of iron, however, 
is placed between these two, so that, when it has admitted 
certain atoms of the brass, it is then possible for the stream 
of particles from the magnet to impel it. 

Nor are these mutiial affinities of the magnet and iron so 
unlike the affections of all other substances, but that many 
instances of the kind occur to me ; instances of bodies which 
I could mention as remarkably adapted to each other. 

In the first place, you see stones cemented only with lime. 
Wood is joined together with giue, prepared from certain^ 
parts of oxen ; and with such strength, that the veins of 
boards will open in cracks,^ sooner than the seams of ox-glue 
will relax their fastenings. 

> Iron rings of Samothrace.] Ver. 1043. Samothracia ferrea. 
" Iron rings, so called from Samothrace, where they were iirst 
made. They were hollow, and were worn because they contamed 
something of the nature of amulets, as a protection against harm." 
Lamhinus. Wakefield refers to Isidore, Orig. xix. 32, and to Har- 
duin ad Plin. H. N. xxxiii. 6, p. 605. 

* Will open in cracks.] Ver. 1069. Vitio hiscatit. 

290 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1071—1086. 

The juice of the vine is willing to mingle with .spring 
water, while heavy pitch, and light olive oil, to unite 
with it. 

The purple colour of the murex so blends in one body with 
wool, that it can never be extracted from it ; not even if you 
should strive to restore the wool to its whiteness with all the 
waves of the sea ; not even if the whole ocean, with all ita 
floods, should be disposed to cleanse it. 

Moreover, one substance only couples gold with gold ; ' and 
brass is united with brass only by pewter.^ 

How many other facts of this nature is it possible to pro- 
duce ! But to what purpose would it be f Neither are such 
long digressions necessary for you, nor does it become me 
to bestow so much labour on this one subject ; but it is 
proper for me to comprise many matters in brief space and 
in few words. 

To conclude, then, respecting the magnet. Between those 
bodies, whose textures so mutually correspond,^^ tliat the cavi- 
ties of this answer to the prominences of that, and the cavities 
of that to the j)rominencis of this, the best union is evidently 
formed.^ It is possible, also, we may observe, that some bodies 
may be held united as if with rings and hooks r^ a mode of 

> One substance only couples gold with gold.] Ver. 1077. Res 
auro aurum co7icopulat mm. " Tlie substance is chrysocolla, that is, 
cement of gold ; the mode of making which you may learn from 
Pliny, H. N. xxxiii. 5." Lambinus. Good says that chri/socoNa is 
" a mineral sand, found on the shores of the Red Sea, of an elegant 
green colour, denominated by the natives of modern times linear, 
or lineal. The borax, now in use for similar purposes, does not differ 
essentially from the chrysocolla, when dissolved and crystallized, 
iuid is, by some chemists, supposed to be precisely the same." 

•^ Brass is united with brass only by pewter.] \ er. 107S. ^rique 
ces jdumbo Jit uti jungatur ab albo. " Pewter is, in tlie present day, 
the common solder for copper and brass ; it is generally a combin- 
ation of tin, lead, and regulus of antimony." Good. It would be 
wrong, he adds, to translate plumbum album, white lead, " for the 
ceruse, or white lead of modern days, is no solder whatever in 
metallic preparations." 

3 Textures so mutually correspond.] Ver. 1083. Ita textura cecx- 
derunt mutiui contra. " Texturae ita mutuo respondent." _ Creech. 
Contra ceciderunt means correspond, and nmtua is adverbially for 


* The best union is evidently formed.] V er. 1085. Inter sejimctura 
hac optima constat. Lambinus reads horum. 

* United as if with rings and hooks.] Ver. 1086. He has before 

B. VI. 1087—1112. LUCRETIUS. 291 

union which seems to take place, rather than any other, be- 
tween the loadstone and iron. 

1 shall now explain what is the nature and origin of dis- 
eases,' and how a morbid infection of the air, suddenly arising, 
may spread deadly destruction among the race of mankind and 
the tribes of inferior animals. In the first place, I have already 
shown ^ that there are in many substances atoms which tend 
to preserve our life ; and, on the other hand, many must ne- 
cessarily fly abroad which are productive of dis<?ase and death ; 
and when these have by chance combined, and disordered the 
air, the air, when in this state, consequently/ becomes unwhole- 
some. And all this prevalence and pestilentialness of diseases 
arise either from without the earth, (as clouds and mists gather 
in the heaven above us,) or spring, as frequently happens, from 
the earth itself, when, drenched with immoderate and un- 
timely rains, and acted upon by fierce rays of the sun, it has 
contracted a kind of putrescence. 

Do you not observe, also, how those who visit any place 
far from their country and their home, are aftected by the 
change in the air and water ? And this happens, because the 
substances in those elements greatly differ. For how much 
mtist we suppose that the air of the Britons varies from that 
which is in Egypt, where the north pole of the world fails to 
show itself?^ Or how much must 7ve imagine that that which 
hangs over Pontus differs from that tvhich stretches over 
Cadiz, and towards the races of men blackened by the parching 
heat of the sunf'^ These four kinds of air, which we observe 
to proceed from the four winds and four several quarters of 
the heaven, we know to be different one from another ; and the 
complexion and looks of the men, also, appear to differ widely ; 
and peculiar diseases seem to affect each individual nation. 

shown how the iron may be brought to the loadstone, and he now 
shows how it may be held attached to it. 

' Origin of diseases.] Ver. 1089. From showing how the atoms of 
the magnet and iron act on one another, he makes a transition to 
the action of atoms on the human frame, so as to produce disease. 

2 I have already shown.] Ver. 1093. See iv. 634; v. 897; vi. 769. 
' Where the north pole of the world fails to show itself. 1 ^'er- 1106. 

Qtia mundi claudicat axis. "That is, where the arctic pole, which to 
us is always visible high in the heaven, is depressed below the hori- 
zon." Lamhinus. ^^ Claudicat for deficit." Creech. 

* Parching heat o/<Ae SM«.] Ver. 1108. Fercocto calore. Sec ver. 

u 2 

292 LUCRETIUS. b. vi. 1113-1132. 

There is the disease called leprosy,' which has its rise on 
the river Nile, in the middle of Egypt, and in no other 

In Attica the feet^ are affected with the gout; and in the 
country of Achaia the eyes are afflicted ivith soreness. Hence 
various regions are unfavourable to various pai'ts and mem- 
bers ; and this effect the diflference of the air produces. 

When that air, therefore, which to us is strong poison, puts it- 
self in motion, and an unwholesome atmosphere begins to spread, 
it creeps along, by degrees, like a mist or cloud, and disorders 
the Avhole heaven, wherever it advances, and compels it to 
alter its nature. It happens, accordingly, that when this cor- 
rupt air has at length joined our air, it infects it, and renders 
it like itself, and unsuitableybr iis. 

This new malady and pest, therefore, either suddenly falls 
into the water, or penetrates into the very corn, or into other 
food of men and cattle. Or even, as may be the case, the in- 
fection remains suspended in the air itself;^ and when, as we 
breathe, we inhale the air mingled with it, we must neces- 
sarily absorb those seeds of disease into our body. By a 
similar process a pestilence often spreads among oxen ; and 
contagion among dull sheep. Nor does it make any diflfer- 

' Leprosy.] Vev. 1113. Elephas. Poetically for elephayitiasis ; a 
kind of lepros}'. "Some assert that this disease affects only those 
inhabitants of Egypt who drink the water of the Nile ; but Celsus, 
iii. 25, says that though it is almost unknown in Italy, it is in some 
countries very common." Creech. 

 la Attica the feet, iSrc] Ver. 1115. The commentators cite no 
other authorities for the prevalence of these diseases in these coun- 

' Tlie infection remains suspended in the air itself.] Ver. 1126. 

The all-surrounding heaven, the vital air_, 

Is big with di ath. And though the putrid south 

Be shut; tliongh no convulsive agony 

Shake, from the deep foundations of the world, 

Th' imprisnn'd plagues; a secret venom oft 

Corrupts the air, the water, and tiie land. 

What livid deaths has sad Byzantivun seen! 

How oft has Cairo, with a mother's woe, 

Wejjt for her slaughter'd sons and lonely streets! 

Ev'n Albion, girt with less malignant skies, 

Albion, the ])oison of the gods has drunk, 

And telt the sting of monsters all her own. 

Armstronij, Art of P. H. iii. 521, 

R. VI. 11.33-1U4. LUCRETIUS. 293 

ence, wliether we go into climates that are unfavourable to us, 
and cliange the atmosphere around us ourselves, or whether 
nature, of" her own accord, brings upon us corrupt air, or any 
other affection which we are not accustomed to experience, 
and which, at its first approach, may infect us icith disease. 

Such a cause of disease, and such deadly vapour in the 
atmosphere, formerly rendered the fields poisonous throughout 
the territories of Attica ; ' it both dispeopled the roads, and 
exhausted the city of its inhabitants. For, having its rise in 
remote parts, proceeding from the coasts of Egypt, and having 
passed through a long tract of air, and over the liquid plains 
of the sea, it at length descended on the people of Pandion,^ 
and all were then consigned by troops to disease and death. 

They first found the head burning with heat,^ and the eyes 

' Territories of Attica.] Ver. 1137. " Here follows a description 
of the plague which formerly devastated Athens, drawn frnni the 
second book of Thucydides, and the third of Hippocrates de Morbis 
Popularibus. This description Lucretius has given with such effect, 
that, in the opinion of Macrobius, (Sat. vi. 2,) he afforded matter for 
imitation to Virgil, Georg. iii. 478, seq. Certainly Ovid took some- 
thing from him in the seventh book of the jMetanior])lioses." Creech. 

I should observe that I have omitted here and there a conjunc- 
tion or two, which, though serviceable in Lucretius's verse, would 
but have clogged English prose. 

Armstrong, in his Art of Preserving Health, book iii., has a short 
description of a plague, in some passages of which be has copied 
Thucydides and Lucretius. I shall notice a few of his imitations. 

Diodorus Siculus, xii. 7, mentions three causes of this plague : a 
superabundance of rain in the middle of summer, v/bicli caused 
miasma to spread through the atmosphere ; the want of proper food, 
the fruits of the preceding year having been crude and unwhole- 
some ; and the defection of the Etesian winds, which, in other years, 
used to temper the heat in summer. Hence, says be, men's bodies 
contracted an evil habit, from which arose all sorts of burning dis- 

^ People of Pandion.] Ver. 1142. Pandion was a king of Athens 
in its earliest days. 

^ They first found the head burning with heat] Ver. 1143. Prin- 
cipio caput mcensum fervore gerebant. This is taken from Thucydides. 
This passage, rendered as follows by Le Blanc de Guillet, will af- 
ford a specimen of bis version : 

D' abord ces malheureux, a la vue alarmee, 
S' offroient, les yeux ardens, et la tete enflammee. 
Bientot un sang epais suintoit de leur gosier. 
Oil des ulceres noirs, prompts k se deployer, 

294 LUCRETIUS. fc. Ti. 114.5-1159 

red with an extraordinary brilliancy shed over them. The 
jaws, also, wldch looked black within, exuded blood ; and the 
passage of the voice was clogged and obstructed' Avith ulcers. 
The tongue, the interpreter of the mind, was covered with 
drops of gore, and ivas enfeebled by the disease, slow in its 
motion, and rough to the touch. 

Then, when the pestilential influence, descending through 
the jaws, had filled the chest and gathered in the suffering 
stomach '■^ of the patients, all the defences of life at once 
gave way. 

The breath sent forth a fetid odour from the mouth, s^ich 
as putrid carcasses, cast out upon the earth, emit. The powers 
of the whole mind, and the whole body, grew languid, as if 
on the very thi-eshold of death. On these intoleralile suffer- 
ings was perpetually attendant an anxious distress of mind, 
und complaints mingled with moanings. A retching,^ too 

Interceptant la voix, retonffaient clans la bouche. 

De r ame appesantie, interpiete farouche, 

La langue foible, rude, et n'ayant qu'un jeu lent, 

Se distillait de meme en fluide sanglant. 

Lorsqu' enfin, du gosier, coulant dans la poitrine, 

Ministres dangereux d'une guerre intestine, 

Ces poisons, en torrens, la portaient dans le coeur; 

Les ressorts de la vie, a leur effort vainqueur, 

S' ebranlaient, s' ecroulaient, tout prets a se dissoudre. 

Des cadavres infects, pourrissans dans le poudre, 

D' inie haleine empestee, on exhalait 1' odeur. 

L' ame etoit'sans ressort; cedant a sa langueur, 

A sa destruction, le corps touchait, comme elle. 

E quelle anxiete profonde, universelle ! 

Quels chagrins douloureux, quels long gemissemena 

M^les de cris plaintifs de moniens en momens ! 

Quels sanglots, nuit et jour, irrite ces tortures, 

Contracte tous les nerfs, les membres, leur jointures; 

Dissolve r homme entier, epuise des long temps ! 

' Clogged and obstructed.] Ver. 1147. Stpjita coibat. 

" Stomach.] Ver. 1151. Cor. "The stomach. The ancient 
physicians, says the Scholiast on Thucydides, called the stomaca 
KapSia, or the heart, and pain in the stomach, Kapciojyfio^." Creech. 

^ A retching. ] Ver. 1159. Singultus. The term answering to this, 
in the descri])tion of Thucydides, is XvyK kevij, on whicli Dr. Arnold 
makes the following observations. " AvyS is what we call a hiccough, 
(compare Plato, Sympos. p. 185,) but here it seems to be almost 
approaching to what is called ' retching ; ' and XvyS, kivi) is that inef- 
fectual retching consequent upon exhaustion, wlien nothing is actu- 

B. VI. 1159—1172. LUCRETIUS. 295 

frequently occurring both by night and by day, convulsed the 
nerves from time to time, and, contracting the limbs, rendered 
the sufferers powerless, exhausting those who were already 
wearied out with pain. 

Vet you could not perceive the surface of the body of any 
one externally' inflamed with an^ extraordinary degree of 
heat, but rather offering a sensation of gentle warmth to the 
hand. At the same time, however^ all the body looked red with 
ulcers, as it were, burning in it /^ as it appears when the ery- 
sipelas spreads over the limbs. But the internal part of the 
patient was glowing with heat, that penetrated even into the 
bones ; a fire raged in the stomach, as in a furnace ; so tliat you 
could have rendered no garment, however light and thin, of 
use to the person of any one ; they constantly exposed their 
limbs, burning with the disease, to the wind and the cold ; and 
some threw themselves into cool rivers, precipitating their bodies 
naked into the waters. Many, approaching the brink with 

ally brought off the stomach." The expression " ineffectual retch- 
ing," has been adopted by Mr. Dale in his translation of'Thucydides. 
For Xvy? and singultus the lexicons give nothing but sobbing or hic- 
cup, but in these passages of Thucydides and Lucretius something 
more is evidently intended. 

The Scholiast on Thucydides says that " there was a Xvy? TrXrjprjQ 
as well as XwyS kevi], as Hippocrates observes." I have not been 
able to find this distinction in Hippocrates, but it may be discover- 
able. From the manner in which Hippocrates often vises the word 
Xiiy^, he seems at times to mean more by it than we iniderstand by 
hiccup. Thus Aphor. vii. 3 : 'Eirl iiitrij} \vyK Kai ofp^aX/iol tpv^pol, 
KUKOv, De Morb. iii. 19 : OTrorav ovv Trpocry kui Xvyl, iifia, icai a'ifxaTog 
$p6ii€ovQ dTto^i]aay u/ia rtf criaXy fi'{KavaQ,ovTog dno^vijaKei i€co^ia~iog. 
In the passage of Plato to v/hich Arnold refers, Sympos. c. 13, it 
means simply hiccup. 

Of the translators of Lucretius, Creech, tor frequens singultus, gives 
"vexing sobs ;" Busby, " melting momentary sobs ;" Good, " hic- 
cough deep;" and the old version, which Good calls Guernier's, 
" frequent sobbings." The French translators, Le Blanc de Guillet 
and Pongerville, give sanglots. 

Thick and pantingly 
The breath was fetch'd, and with huge lab'rings heaved. 

Armstrong, Art of P. H. iii. 559- 

• Surface of the body externally.] Ver. 1163. Corporis in 

summo summani fervescere pm-t&m. 

- Ulcers, as it were, burning in it.] Ver. 1165. Ulceribita yuast 
intistis. See on ver. 723. 

2^^ LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1173-1199, 

open moutli«, hurled themselves headlong down' into the 
water in well.s ; for a parching thirst, raging insatiably, rind 
driving-^//e/«-to-plunge their bodies into the Jtood, made vast 
showers seem only as small drops. 

Nor was there any intermission of the malady ; the bodies 
of men lay exhausted ; medicine spoke in low tones with a 
secret dread ;2 so incessantly did the patients roll their eyes, 
^vhich remained wide open, burning with disease, and un- 
visited by sleep. Many other signs of death at the same time 
showed themselves ; the mind was distracted with anguish 
and dread ; tlie brow xoas gloomy ; the look wild and fierce ; 
the ears disturbed and filled with noises ; the breathing a-as 
either fast, or thick, or drawn hut seldom ; there urns a moist 
dew of perspiration shining upon the neck ; the saliva Avas 
thin, scanty, and tinged with the colour of saffron ; it was 
also salt, and expelled with difficulty from the hoarse throat 
by coughing. In the hand, the nerves contracted ; and the 
7cho/£ arm shook. From the feet a coldness rose quickly, 
;//et gradually,^ over the body ; the nostrils, towards the closing 
hour of life, were compressed ; the point of the nose was sharp ; 
the eyes were hollow ; the temples sunk ; the skin cold and 
hard ; a distortion overspreading the mouth ; the forehead 
tense and prom'ment ; and, not long after these appearances, 
tlic limbs lay stretched in rigid death ; and for the most part, 
when the eiglith light of the sun shone, or, at farthest, at his 
ninth rising, they yielded up their life. 

Of which sufferers, if any ono, for a time escaped death, (as 
was possible, either by reason of the foul ulcers breaking, or 
by means of a black discharge from the intestines,) yet con- 

' Hurled themselves — down.] Ver. 1173. AUtinciderunt. Fell 
from on higli, from the liigh brink. 

- -Medicine spoke in low tones with a secret dread.] Ver. 1178. 
Mussahat tacito niedicina timore. 

The Salutary Art 

Was nnitc ; and, startled at the new disease, 
In fearful whis])ers hopeless omens gave. 

Armstrong, Art of Preserving Health, book iii. 

Silius Italicus, in his description of the plague that happened in 
Sicily, during tlie siege of Syracuse by MarceUus, has " Succubuit 
Medic'ina niaHs." xiv. (j()9. 

^ Rose quickly, yet gradually.] Ver. 1191. Minutatim succedert 
noil dubitnbat. 

B. VI. 1200-1220. LUCRETIUS. 297 

sumption and destruction awaited him at last ; or, as was often 
the case, an excessive flux of corrupt blood, attended with 
violent pains in the head, issued from the obstructed nostrils ; 
and, by this outlet, the whole strength and substance of the 
man passed away. 

He, moreover, who had escaped this violent flux of foul 
blood, ivos not certain wholly to recover; for still the disease 
Avas ready-to-pass into liis nerves and joints, and into the 
very genial organs of the body. And ojf those who suffered 
thus, some, fearing the gates of death, continued to live, tlwiigh 
deprived by the steel of the virile part ; and some, though 
without hands and feet, and though they lost their eyes, yet 
persisted-to-remain in life; so strong a dread of death had taken 
possession of them. Upon some, too, came forgetfulness ' of 
all things, so that they knew not even themselves. 

And though numerous corpses, heaped upon corpses, lay 
extended over the ground, yet the tribes of birds, and of wild 
beasts, either ran oflf to a distance, to avoid the repulsive 
stench, or, after having tasted thejlesh, sickened with instant 

But, indeed, during those days, scarcely any bird appeared 
in the shy; nor did the destructive tribes of savage beasts 
leave the woods during the nights. Most of them suffered 
from the disease, and died ; the faithful spirit of the dog,^ espe- 

' Upon some, too, came forgetfulness, <Src.] Ver. 1210. 
A wild delirium came; their weeping friends 
Were strangers now, and this no liome of theirs. 
Harass'd with toil on toil, the sinking powers 
Lay prostrate and o'ertlirown ; a pond'rous sleep 
Wrapt all the senses up ; they slept and died. 

Armstrong, Art of P. H. iii. 562. 

* The faithful spirit of the dog.] Ver. 1220. Fida catmm vis. 
Compare Camim permissa vis, iv. 683. Thucydides, ii. 50, alludes to 
the effect of the disease on the dogs ; and Homer makes the infec- 
tion of his plague seize on dogs among the first : 

On mules and dogs th' infection first began. Pope. 
So Virgil, Geo. iii. 496: 

Hinc canibus blandis rabies venit. 

Then on bland dogs the madd'ning influence fell. 
And so Silius Italicus, xiv. 59i : 

Vim primi sensere canes. 

The dogs were first the dire disease to feel. 

298 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1221—1243. 

cially, stretched along all the streets, unwillingly relinquished 
life : the force of the disease, however, wrested the vital power 
from Ills limbs. 

Funerals, unattended and solitary, were eagerly hurried 
over.' Nor was there any certain mode of cure comnion and 
efficient for all. For that which had secured to one the privi- 
lege of breathing the vital aii*,^ and of beholding the regions 
of the sky, was mere poison to others, and hastened their 

But that which, in these circumstances, was pre-eminently 
deplorable and wretched, was, that when any one found him- 
self seized with the pestilence, he lay down, as if he were con- 
demned^ to death, sunk in spirit, a«rf with a despairing heart,* 
thinking only of death, and gave up the ghost on the same 
spot on which he fell. 

At no time, however, did the contagion of the insatiable 
disease cease to spread itself from one man to another, as a 
murrain is dissemmated among woolly sheep and horned cattle. 
And this circumstance, even above all others, heaped death 
upon death. For on those, who shrunk from visiting their 
sick friends, fatal neglect soon took vengeance, {as having been 
too fond of life and too apprehensive of death,) causing them to 
perish by a squalid and miserable end, deserted by their rela- 
tives, and destitute of relief. But those who had been ready 
to give assistance, fell into the malady from infection, and by 
reason of the duty which shame, and the moving entreaties of 

' Were eagerly hurried over.] V^er. 1224, Rapi certahant. It 
would seem either that this verse is out of its place, or that the 
passage is defective. 

2 The privilege of breathing the vital air.] Ver. 1226. Vitales 
aeris auras Volvere in ore licere. 

^ As if he were condemned.] Ver. 1231. Damnatus ut esset. " Ut 
for qxiasi.^' Fahcr. 

* Sunk in spirit, and witli a despairing heart.] Ver. 1232. 

Of every hope deprived ; 
Fatigued with vain resources; and subdued 
With woes resistless and enfeebling fear ; 
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow. 
Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard, 
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death. 
Infectious horror ran frpm face to face, 
And pale despair. 

r. VI. 1244—1266. LUCRETIUS. 299 

the sufferers, mingled with sounds of reproach,^ compelled 
them to undergo. The most excellent characters, accordinflv. 
incurred this kind of death most frequenth/. 

Those, moreover, who strove to bury the multitude of their 
dead, one after another,^ returned home overcome with weep- 
ing and mourning. Hence men were stretched on their beds 
in great numbers, through sorrow and despondency ; nor could 
any one be found, whom, in such a time of calamity, neither 
disease, nor death, nor mourning/or the loss of friends, had af- 

Besides, as the pestilence now spread, every shepherd and 
herdsman, as well as every stout driver of the crooked plough, 
languished under the infection; their bodies lay cooped up 
witliin their narrow huts, consigned to death from the effects 
of want and disease. You might have seen the dead corpses 
of parents stretched on their dead children, and sometimes, 
again, children expiring on the bodies of their mothers and 

And this affliction was brought, in no small portion, into 
the city from the country ; affliction which a sick and in- 
fected multitude of rustics, flocking together from all parts, 
introduced. They crowded all places of reception and of 
shelter ; for which reason, as they were thus crammed toge- 
ther, death the more easily strewed them in heaps by the 
force of contagion. 

Many bodies, from the effects o/ thirst, lay stretched at the 
public conduits,^ prostrate and extended along the road, their 
breath having been stopped by too great indulgence in the 
deliciousness of the water. And every where, along the open 
and public roads,* you might have seen powerless limbs, with 

* Mingled with sounds of reproach.] ^^er. 1244. Mixfii voce qtm- 
relas. The voice of complaint or reproach being mixed with en- 

- One after another.] Ver. 1246. Inque aliis alium. " Alteriim 
post alterum." Wakefield. One among others. 

^ Stretched at the public conduits.] V'er. 1264. Silanos ad aqua- 
rum strata. Silnmts was a conduit or water-pipe, or other orifice for 
a stream ; a word of uncertain derivation. Gessner thinks that heads 
of the Tullii, Marsyae, Silani, &e., were fixed over the conduits, which 
were accordingly named from them. 

* Along the open and public roads.] Ver, 1266. Per popiili loca 
p^Ofnpta viasque. 

300 LUCRETIUS. 1267-1277. 

half-dead bodies of men, horrible with squalor, covered with 
rags, and perishing for want of dressing ; there was skin only 
on the bones,' which was itself now almost sunk away, by rea- 
son of disease of the viscera, and overspreading filth. 

All the sacred temples of the gods, moreover, death had 
now crowded with carcasses ; all the shrines of the divini- 
ties, in eveiy part, stood filled with corpses ; for these were 
places which the attendants of the temples had thronged Avith 
strangers. Nor, indeed, was the worship of the gods, or their 
divinities, much regarded ; for present suffering overcame 
religious consideratiotis. 

Nor was the custom of sepulture,^ with which that pious 

' Skin only on the bones, ^r-.] Ver. 1269. 

Pellis super ossibus una, 
Visceribus tetris prope jam sordique sepulta. 
I have rendered septiUa "sunk away," endeavouring to give some 
sense to the passage as it stands in Wakefield and Forbiger. 
" Pelle," says Wakefield, " visceribus inustis consolidatisque obrutii 
et deperditA." But in truth visceribus makes the passage nonsense; 
all other editors, except Wakefield, Forbiger, and Eichstadt, have 

2 Nor was the custom of sepulture, &;c.] Ver. 1277. "In these 
last verses the poet relates, that the Athenians were not content 
with polluting their holy places with dead bodies, but transgressed 
likewise all their laws concerning funerals, (which they had till 
then observed,) and buried their d6ad as they could, wherever they 
found room. * * * By the unanimous consent of all authoi-s, the 
Athenians were of all people the most ceremonious in the funerals 
of their dead, whom they honoured even to the highest superstition. 
If any one neglected to pay the rites of burial to those who were 
slain in war, he was punished with death; and the pomp and ex- 
pense of funerals grew at length to such excess among them, that 
Solon was forced to put a stop to it by laws ; but wlien this plague 
was raging at Athens, no funeral rites were observed ; — as the his- 
torian, from whom our poet has taken this passage, relates." Com- 
mentary on Creech's Translation. 

Qualis Erecbtbonios pestis populata colonos, 
Extulit antiquas per funera pacis Athenas, 
Alter in alterius labens cum fata ruebat ; 
Nee locus erat artis medicaj ; nee vota valebant; 
Cesserat officium morbis, et funera deerant 
Mortibus, et lacrymae ; fessus defecerat ignis, 
Et coacervatis ardebant corpora membris. 

Ma7nlius, i. 882. 

Through Erecthean lands when that plague stray 'd, 
And Athens waste by peaceful funerals laid; 

B. VI. 1278—128.5. LUCRETIUS. 301 

people had always been accustomed to bury,' observed longer 
in the city. For the whole people, in perturbation, ran hither 
and thither ;^ and each in his sorrow buried his friend accord- 
ing to his means. 

Dire poverty, too, with sudden impulse, prompted men to 
many impious deeds; for they placed their relatives, with 
loud outcries, on the funei'al piles raised for others,^ and ap- 
plied torches to them; often even quarrelling, with great 
bloodshed, rather than the bodies should be left unconsmned. 

When each contracted other's death ; then art 

No cure could find, nor prayers could help impart ; 

Care to the sick, and funerals to the dead, 

Ev'n tears were wanting; those no mourners shed ; 

The wearied flame did from its office cease ; 

Heaps of fired bones burnt the dead carcasses. 

Sir Edward Sherburne, 

* Had — been accustomed to bury.] Ver. 1278. Consuerat himmri. 
The sense requires humare, which Creech gives in his interpretation. 
The people had been accustomed to bury (their dead), not to be bu- 

" Ran hither and thither.] Ver. 1279. Bepedabat: which Wake- 
field interprets discursitabat. Lambinus and Creech, whom Lach- 
mann follows, give trepidahat. 

^ Funeral piles raised for others.] Ver. 1282. Aliena rogorum — 

Thus abruptly ends the description of the plague, and the poem 
of liucretius. 

Much of the account of the pestilence, as is observed above, is 
taken from Thucydides. I have not thought it necessary to trans- 
cribe in the notes the passages of Thucydides which Lucretius imi- 
tates ; the EuKlish reader may refer to the whole description in Mr. 
Dale's Thucydides; and the scholar has ample references in Lam- 
binus and Creech. 

Procopius lias given a full account of the plague which began to 
spread through the world, and devastated the city of Constantinople, 
in the reign of Justinian ; an account in which Gibbon says that he 
" has emulated the skill and diligence of Thucydides in his descrip- 
tion of the plague at Athens." It is observable that he represents 
it, like that of Athens, as taking its rise from Egypt. " Ethiopia and 
Egypt," says Gibbon, (ch. xliii. subjin.,)_ " have been stigmatized, 
in every age, as the great source and seminary of the plague. In a 
damp, hot, stagnating air, this African fever is generated from the 
putrefaction of animal substances, and especially from the swarms 
of locusts, not less destructive to mankind in their death than in 
their lives." 

The assertion of Macrobius, (Sat. vi. 2,) that Virgil took the prin- 



cipal colouring and features of his description of a pestilence 
cattle (Georg. iii. 478 — 5G(>) from Lucretius's picture of the Athenian 
plague, rests on very slight foundation. Virgil may have been in- 
duced to write his description in emulation of tliat of Lucretius; 
but very little that is actually copied will he found in it. In Ovid's 
description of the same Athenran pestilence, (Metam. vii. 523 — 613,) 
the attentive reader will find far more marks of imitation. 

Silius Italicus (xiv. .580 — 617) also, like his great predecessors, 
gives a description of the plague which attacked the Roman army 
at the siege of Syracuse. Many of his points are taken from Lu- 
cretius, as in the following passage : 

Helpless the victims sunk ; the tongue was parched ; 
Cold perspiration o'er the trembling frame 
Flowed copious ; while the tumid throat forbade 
The food's half-forced descent ; a vehement cough 
Shook the ve.xed lungs ; and from the arid mouth 
Fumed fiery breath, that ceaseless thirst proclaimed. 
The eyes, that scarce th' oppressive light could bear, 
Sunk in deep ghastly hollows by the side 
Of the sharp nose; foul bile, commixed with blood, 
Forth gushes from the stomach ; the weak limbs, 
Fleshless and wasted, shrink to skin and bone. 

The general features of pestilential destruction are also carefully 
detailed by Seneca in his (Edipus, Act i. 

Thomson has a passage on the effects of pestilence, Summer, ver. 
1026, seq. 

Boccacio, in his description of the plague at Florence, seems to 
have had Thucydides in view. 

If the reader wish to see more accounts of pestilence, in imagin- 
ative writers, he may consult Defoe's "History of the Plague;" 
Wilson's " City of the Plague ;" Brockden Brown's "Arthur IVIer- 
vyn ;" Horace Smith's " Brambletve House ;" Mrs. Shelley's " Last 
Man;" Ainsworth's " Old Saint Pauls." 






Parent of Rome ! by gods and men beloved, 
Benignant Venus ! thou, the sail-clad main 
And fruitful earth, as round the seasons roll, 
With life who swellest, for by thee all live, 
And, living, hail the cheerful light of day : — 5 

Thee, goddess, at thy glad approach, the winds. 
The tempests fly : dedalian Earth to thee 
Pours forth her sweetest flow'rets : Ocean laughs. 
And the blue heavens in cloudless splendour decked. 
For, when the Spring first opes her frolic eye, 10 

And genial zephyrs long locked up respire. 
Thee, goddess, then, th' aerial birds confess. 
To rapture stung through every shivering plume: 
Thee, the wild herds ; hence, o'er the joyous glebe 
Bounding at large ; or, with undaunted chest, 1 5 

Stemminsr the torrent tides. Through all that lives 
So, by thy charms, thy blandishments o'erpowered, 
Spi'ings the warm wish thy footsteps to pursue : 
Till through the seas, the mountains, and the floods, 
The verdant meads, and woodlands filled with song, 20 
Spurred by desire each palpitating tribe 
Hastes, at thy shrine, to plant the future race. 

Since, then, with universal sway thou rul'at. 
And thou alone ; nor aught without thee springs, 



Aught gay or lovely ; thee I woo to guide 23 

Aright my flowing song, that aims to paint 

To Mejimius' view the kssences of things: 

Memmius, my friend, by thee, from earliest youth, 

O goddess ! led, and trained to every grace. 

Then, O, vouchsafe tliy favour, power divine I 30 

And with immortal eloquence inspire. 

Quell, too, the fury of the hostile world. 

And lull to peace, that all the strain may hear. 

For peace is thine : on thy soft bosom he. 

The warlike field who sways, almighty Mars, 35 

Struck by triumphant Love's eternal wound, 

lleclines full frequent: with uplifted gaze 

On thee lie feeds his longing, lingering eyes, 

And all his soul hangs quivering from thy lips. 

! while thine arms in fond embraces clasp 40 

His panting members, sovereign of the heai't ! 

Ope thy bland voice, and intercede for Rome. 

For, while th' unsheathed sword is brandished, vain 

And all unequal is the poet's song ; 

And vain th' attempt to claim his patron's ear. 45 

Son of the Memmii ! thou, benignant, too, 
Freed from all cares, with vacant ear attend ; 
Nor turn, contemptuous, ere the truths I sing, 
For thee first harmonized, are full perceived. 
Lo ! to thy view I spread the rise of things ; 50 

Unfold th' immortals, and their blest abodes : 
IIow Nature all creiites, sustains, matures, 
And how, at length, dissolves ; what forms the mass. 
Termed by the learned, Matter, Seeds of Things, 
And generative Atoms, or, at times, 55 

Atoms primordial, as hence all proceeds. 

Far, far from mortals, and their vain concerns. 
In peace perpetual dwell th' immortal gods: , 
Eacli self-dependent, and from human wants 
Estranged for ever. There, nor pain pervades, 60 

Nor danger threatens ; every passion sleeps ; 
Vice no revenge, no rapture virtue prompts. 

Not thus mankind. Tliem long the tyrant power 
Of Superstition swayed, uplifting proud 
Her head to heaven, and with horrific limbs 65 


Srooding o'er earth ; till he, the man of Greece, 

Auspicious rose, wiio first the combat dared, 

And broke in twain the monster's iron rod. 

No thunder him, no fell revenge pursued 

Of heaven incensed, or deities in arms. 70 

Urged rather, hence, with moi-e determined soul, 

To burst through Nature's portals, from the crowd 

With jealous caution closed ; the flaming walls 

Of heaven to scale, and dart his dauntless eye. 

Till tlie vast whole beneath him stood displayed. 75 

Hence taught he us, triumphant, what might spring, 

And what forbear: what powers inherent lurk, 

And where their bounds and issues. And, hence, we, 

Triumphant too, o'er Superstition rise. 

Contemn her terrors, and unfold the heavens. 80 

Nor deem the truths Philosophy reveals 
Corrupt the mind, or prompt to impious deeds. 
No : Superstition may, and nought so soon, 
But Wisdom never. Superstition 'twas 
Urged the fell Grecian chiefs, with virgin blood, 85 

To stain the virgin altar. Barbarous deed ! 
And fatal to their laurels ! AuLis saw. 
For there Diana reigns, th' unholy rite. 
Around she looked ; the pride of Grecian maids. 
The lovely Iphigenia, round she looked, — 90 

Her lavish tresses, spurning still the bond 
Of sacred fillet, flaunting o'er her cheeks, — 
And sought, in vain, protection. She surveyed 
Near her, her sad, sad sire ; th' officious priests 
Repentant half, and hiding their keen steel, 95 

And crowds of gazers weeping as they viewed. 
Dumb with alarm, with supplicating knee, 
And lifted eye, she sought compassion still ; 
Fruitless and unavailing : vain her youth. 
Her innocence, and beauty ; vain the boast 100 

Of regal birth ; and vain that first herself 
Lisped the dear name of Father, eldest born. 
Forced from her suppliant posture, straight she vi(;wed 
The altar full prepared : not there to blend 
Connubial vows, and light the bridal torch ; iOo 

But, at the moment when mature in charms, 


While Hymen called aloud, to full, e'en then, 

A father's victim, ami the price to pay 

Of Grecian navies, i'avoured thus with gales. — 

Such are the crimes that Superstition prompts ! 110 

And dost thou still resist us? trusting still 
The fearful tale by priests and poets told ? — 
I, too, could feign such fables ; and combine 
As true to fact, and of as potent spell, 

To freeze thy blood, and harrovs^ every nerve. — 115 

Nor wrong th' attempt. Were mortal man assured 
Eternal death would close this life of woe, 
And nought i-emain of curse beyond the grave, 
E'en then religion half its force would lose ; 
Vice no alarm, and virtue feel no hope. 120 

But, whilst the converse frights him, man will dread 
Eternal pain, and flee from impious deeds. 
Yet doubtful is the doctrine, and unknown 
Whether, co-eval with th' external frame. 
The soul first lives, when lives the body first, 125 

Or boasts a date anterior : whetlier doomed 
To common ruin, and one common grave, 
Or through tlie gloomy shades, the lakes, the caves, 
Of Erebus to wander : or, percliance. 

As Ennius taught, immortal bard, whose brows 130 

Unlading laurels bound, and still whose verse 
All Rome recites, entranced — perchance condemned 
The various tribes of brutes, with ray divine, 
To animate and quicken : though the bard. 
In deathless melody, has elsewliere sung 135 

Of AcHERUSiAN temples, where, nor suul 
Nor body dwells, but images of men, 
Mysterious shaped ; in wondrous measure wan. 
Here Homer's spectre roamed, of endless fame 
Possest : his briny tears the bard surveyed, 140 

And drank the dulcet precepts from his lips. 

Such are the various creeds of men. And hence 
The philosophic sage is called t' explain. 
Not the mere phases of the heavens alone, 
The sun's bright path, the moon's perpetual change, 145 
And powers of earth productive, but to point. 
In terms a[)propriate, the dissevering lines 


'Twixt mind and brutal life ; and prove precise 
Whence spring those shadowy forms, which, e'en in hours 
Wakeful and calm, but chief when dreams molest, 1 50 

Or dire disease, we see, or think we see, 
Though the dank grave have long their bones inhumed. 

Yet not unknown to me how hard the task 
Such deep obscurities of Greece t' unfold 
In Latin numbers ; to combine new terms, loo 

And strive with all our poverty of tongue. — 
But such thy virtue, and the friendship pure 
My bosom bears, that arduous task I dare ; 
And yield the sleepless night, in hope to cull 
Some happy phrase, some well-selected verse, 160 

Meet for the subject ; to dispel each shade. 
And bid the mystic doctrine hail the day. 
For shades there are, and terrors of the soul. 
The day can ne'er disperse, though blazing strong 
With all the sun's bright javelins. These alone 165 

-^ To Nature yield, and Reason ; and, combined, 
This is the precept they for ever teach, 


But the blind fear, the superstition vain 
Of mortals uninformed, when spring, perchance, 170 

In heaven above, or earth's sublunar scene. 
Events to them impervious, instant deem 
Some power supernal present, and employed. — 
Admit this truth, that nought from nothing springs. 
And all is clear. Developed, then, we trace, 175 

Through Nature's boundless realm, the rise of things. 
Their modes, and powers innate ; nor need from heaven 
^ Some god's descent to rule each insing fact. 

Could things from nought proceed, then whence the use 
Of generative atoms, binding strong 180 

Kinds to their kinds perpetual ? Man himself 
Might spring from ocean ; from promiscuous earth 
The finny rape, or feathery tribes of heaven : 
Prone down the skies the bellowing herds might bound. 
Or frisk from cloud to cloud: while flocks, and beasts 185 
Fierce and most savage, undefined in birth. 
The field or forest might alike display. 
Each tree, inconstant to our hopes, would bend 

X 2 


With foreign fruit : and all things all things yield. 
Whence but from elemental seeds that act 190 

With truth, and power precise, can causes spring 
Powerful and true themselves ? But grant such seeds, 
And all, as now, through Nature's wide domain, 
In time predicted, and predicted place, 
Must meet the day concordant ; must assume 195 

The form innately stampt, and prove alone 
Why all from all things never can proceed. 

Whence does the balmy rose possess the spring ? 
The yellow grain the summer ? or, the vine 
With purple clusters, cheer th' autumnal hours ? 200 

Whence, true to time, if such primordial seeds 
Act not harmonious, can aught here surveyed, 
Aught in its season, rear its tender form. 
And the glad earth protrude it to the day ? 
But, if from nought things rise, then each alike, 205 

In every spot, at every varying month, 
Must spring discordant : void of primal seeds 
To check all union till th' allotted hour. 

Nor space for growth would then be needful: -ill 
Springing from nought, and still from nought supplied. 210 

The puny babe would start abrupt to man; | 

And trees umbrageous, crowned with fruit mature, 

Burst, instant, from the greensward. But such facts 

Each day opposes ; and, opposing, proves 

That all things gradual swell from seeds defined, 215 

Of race and rank observant, and intent 

T' evince th' appropriate matter whence they thrive. 

But matter thus appropriate, or e'en space 
For growth mature, form not the whole required. 
The timely shower from heaven must add benign 220 

Its influence too, ere yet the teeming earth 
Emit her joyous produce; or, the ranks 
Of man and' reptile, thence alone sustained. 
May spring to life, and propagate their kinds. 
Say rather, then, in much that meets the view, 225 

That various powers combine, concordant all, 
Common and elemental, as in words 
Such elemental letters, — than contend, 
That void of genial atoms, aught exists. 


Why formed not Nature man with ample powers 230 
To fathom, with his feet, th' unbottomed main ? 
To root up mountains with his mighty hands ? 
Or live o'er lapsing ages victor still ? 
Why, but because primordial matter, fixt 
And limited in act, to all is dealt 235 

Of things created, whence their forms expand. 
And hence again we learn, and prove express. 
Nought springs from nought, and that, from seeds precise, 
Whate'er is formed must meet th' ethereal day. 

Mark how the cultured soil the soil excels 240 

Uncultured, richer in autumnal fruits. 
Here, too, the latent principle of things. 
Freed by the plough, the fertile glebe that turns 
And subjugates the sod, exert their power. 
And swell the harvest : else, spontaneous, all 245 

Would still ascend by labour unimproved. 

And as from nought the genial seeds of things 
Can never rise, so Nature that dissolves 
Their varying forms, to nought can ne'er reduce. 

Were things destructible throughout, then all 250 

Abrupt would perish, passing from the sight ; 
Nor foreign force be wanting to disjoin 
Their vital parts, or break th' essential bond. 
But since, from seeds eternal all things rise, 
Till force like this prevail, with sudden stroke 255 

Crushing the living substance, or within 
Deep entering each interstice, to dissolve 
All active. Nature no destruction views. 

Were time the total to destroy of all 
By age decayed, — say whence could Venus' self 260 

The ranks renew of animated life ? 
Or, if renewed, whence earth's dedalian power 
Draw the meet foods to nurture, and mature ? 
Whence springs and rivers, with perpetual course. 
The deep supply ? or, ether feed the stars ? 265 

Whate'er could perish, ever-during time, 
And rolling ages, must have long destroy'd. 
But if, through rolling ages, and the lapse 
Of ever-during time, still firm at base. 
Material things have stood, then must that base 270 


Exist immortal, and the fates defy. 

Thus, too, the same efficient force applied 
Alike must all things rupture, if, within. 
No substance dwelled eternal to maintain 
In close, and closer, links their varying bonds. 275 

E'en the least touch, — for every cause alike 
Must break their textures, equal in effect. 
If no imperishable power opposed, — 
E'en touch were then irrevocable death. 
But since, with varying strength, the seeds within 280 

Adhere, of form precise, and prove express 
Their origin eternal, — free from ill. 
And undivided must those forms endure, 
Till some superior force the compact cleave. 
Thus things to nought dissolve not ; but, subdued, 285 
Alone return to elemental seeds. 

When, on the bosom of maternal Eajrth, 
His showers redundant genial Ether pours, 
The dulcet drops seem lost : but harvests rise, 
Jocund and lovely ; and, with foliage fresh, 290 

Smiles every tree, and bends beneath its fruit. 
Hence man and beast are nourished ; hence o'erflow 
Our joyous streets with crowds of frolic youth; 
And with fresh songs th' umbrageous groves resound. 
Hence the herds fatten, and repose at ease, 295 

O'er the gay meadows, their unwieldy forms ; 
While from each full-distended udder drops 
The candid milk spontaneous ; and hence, too. 
With tottering footsteps, o'er the tender grass. 
Gambol their wanton young, each little heart 300 

Quivering beneath the genuine nectar quaffed. 

So nought can perish, that the S'ight surveys, 
With utter death ; but Nature still renews 
Each from the otlier, nor can form afresh 
One substance, till anotlier be destroyed. 305 

But come, my friend, and, since the muse has sung 
Things cannot spring from, or return to nought, 
Lest thou should'st urge, still sceptic, that no eye 
Their generative atoms e'er has traced ; 
Mark in what scenes thyself must own, perforce, 310 

Still atoms dwell, though viewless still to sense. 


And, first, th' excited wind torments the deep ; 
Wrecks the tough bark, and tears the shivering clouds : 
Now, with wide whirlwind, prostrating alike 
O'er the waste champaign, trees, and bending blade; 315 
And now, perchance, with forest-rending force, 
Rocking the mighty mountains on their base. 
So vast its fury ! — But that fury flows 
Alone from viewless atoms, that, combined. 
Thus form the fierce tornado, raging wild 320 

O'er heaven, and eartli, and ocean's dread domain. 
As when a river, down its verdant banks 
Soft-gliding, sudden from the mountains round 
Swells with the rushing rain — the placid stream 
All limit loses, and, with furious force, 325 

In its resistless tide, bears down, at once, 
Shrubs, shattered trees, and bridges, weak alike 
Before the tumbling torrent : such its power ! — 
Loud roars the raging flood, and triumphs still. 
O'er rocks, and mounds, and all that else contends. 330 
So roars th' enraged wind : so, like a flood. 
Where'er it aims, befoi'e its mighty tide, 
Sweeps all created things : or round, and round. 
In its vast vortex curls their tortured forms. — 
Though viewless, then, the matter thus that acts, 335 

Still there is matter : and, to Reason's ken, 
Conspicuous as the visual texture traced 
In the wild wave that emulates its strength. 

Next, what keen eye e'er followed, in their course, 
The light-winged odours ? or developed clear 340 

The mystic forms of cold, or heat intense ? 
Or sound through ether fleeting ? — yet, though far 
From human sight removed, by aU confessed 
Alike material ; since alike the sense 

They touch impulsive ; and since nought can touch 345 
But matter ; or, in turn, be touched itself. 

Thus, too, the garment that along the shore. 
Lashed by the main, imbibes the briny dew. 
Dries in the sunbeam : but, alike unseen, 
Falls the moist ether, or again flies oiF 350 

Entire, abhorrent of the red-eyed noon. 


So fine tlie attenuated spray that floats 
In the pure breeze ; so fugitive to sight. 

A thousand proofs spring up. The ring tliat decks 
The fair one's finger, by revolving years, 355 

Wastes imperceptibly. The dropping shower 
Scoops the rough rock. The plough's attempered share 
Decays : and the thick pressure of the crowd, 
Incessant passing, wears the stone-paved street. 
E'en the gigantic forms of solid brass, 360 

Placed at our portals, from the frequent touch 
Of devotees and strangers, now display 
The right hand lessened of its proper bulk. — 
All lose, we view, by friction, their extent ; 
But, in what time, what particles they lose, 365 

This envious Nature from our view conceals. 

Thus, too, both Time and Nature give to things 
A gradual growth : but never yet the sight 
That gradual growth explored ; nor marked their fall, 
Still gradual too, by age, or sure decay : 370 

Nor traced what portions of incumbent rock, 
Loaded with brine, the caustic Avave dissolves. — 
So fine tlie particles that form the world. 

Yet not corporeal is the whole produced 
By Nature. In created things exists, 375 

Search where thou wilt, an incorporeal void. 
This mark, and half philosophy is thine. 
Doubtful no longer shalt thou wander : taught 
Th' entire of things, and by our verse convinced. 
And know this void is space untouched and pxtre. 380 

Were space like this vouchsafed not, nought could move : 
Corporeal forms would still resist, and strive 
With forms corporeal, nor consent to yield ; 
While the great progress of creation ceased. 
But what more clear in earth or heaven sublime, 385 

Or the vast ocean, than, in various modes, 
That various matter moves ? which, but for space, 
'Twere vain t' expect : and vainer yet to look 
For procreative power, educing still 
Kinds from their kinds through all revolving time. 390 

True, tilings are solid deemed : but know that those 


Deemed so the most are rare and unconjoined. 

From rocks, and caves, translucent lymph distils, 

And, from the tough bark, drops the healing balm. 

The genial meal, with mystic power, pervades 395 

Each avenue of life ; and the grove swells, 

And yields its various fruit, sustained alone 

From the pure food propelled through root and branch. 

Sound pierces marble ; through reclusest walls 

The bosom-tale transmits : and the keen frost 400 

E'en to the marrow winds its sinuous way. — 

Destroy all vacuum, then, close every pore, 

And, if thou canst, for such events account. 

Say, why of equal bulk, in equal scale. 
Are things oft found unequal in their poise ^ 405 

O'er the light wool the grosser lead prevails 
With giant force. But were th' amount alike 
Of matter each contained, alike the weight 
Would prove perpetual : for, from matter sole, 
Flows weight, and moment, ever prone to earth: 410 

While vacant space nor weight nor moment knows. 
Where things surpoise, then, though of equal bulk. 
There matter most resides : but where ascends 
The beam sublime, the rising substance holds 
A smaller share, and larger leaves the void. 415 

Hence draws the sage his creed : in all produced • 
Finds vacuum still, and calls that vacuum space. 

But some there are such doctrines who deny : 
And urge in proof, deceptive, that we wave 
Not through imagined pores admits the race 420 

With glitt'ring scales — but yields at once, and opes 
The liquid path ; and occupies, in turn, 
The space behind the aureat fish deserts. 
Thus, too, that all things act : the spot possessed 
Exchanging sole, while each continues full. 425 

Believe them not. If nought of space the wave 
Give to its gilded tenants, how, resolve. 
Feel they the power t' advance ? and if t' advance 
They know not, how can, next, the wave thus yield ? — 
Or matter ne'er can move, then, or within 430 

Some VOID must mix through all its varying forms, 
Whence springs alone the power of motion first. 


When force mechanic severs, and, abrupt, 
Drives two broad bodies distant, quick between 
Flows the light air, and fills the vacuum formed. 435 

But ne'er so rapid can the light air flow 
As to forbid all void ; since, step by step, 
It still must rush till the whole space be closed. 
Nor ci-edit those who urge such bodies sole 
Can part because the liquid air, compress'd 440 

To closer texture, gives tlie needed space. 
Such feeble reas'ners, in opposing void, 
A double void confess : for, first, perforce, 
A void they own, where void was none before, 
Betwixt the substance severed ; and bring next 44o 

A proof surmountless that the air itself 
Thronged with a prior void : else how, to bounds 
Of closer texture, could it e'er contract ? 

A thousand facts crowd round me : to the same 
Converging all. But ample these, I ween, 4o0 

Though but the footsteps of the mighty whole, 
To fix thy faith, and guide thee to the rest. 
For as the hound, when once the tainted dew 
His nostrils taste, pursues the vagrant fox 
O'er hills, and dales, and drags him from his lair ; 455 

So may'st thou trace from fact associate fict, 
Through every maze, through every doubtful shade, 
Till Truth's bright form, at length, thy labours crown. 

Nor tardy be the toil, for much remains. 
So oft, O Memmius ! from the sacred fount 460 

By wisdom fed, so largely have I drank, 
And such the dulcet doctrines yet untold, 
That age may first unman us, and break down 
The purple gates of life, ere the bold muse 
Exhaust the boundless subject. Haste we, then, 465 

Each pulse is precious, haste we to proceed. 

Know, then, th' entire of nature sole consists 
Of SPACE and BODY : this the substance moved, 
And that the area of its motive power. 
That there is body, every sense we boast 470 

Demonsti-ates strong: and, i& we trust not sense, 
Source of all science, then the mind itself, 
Perplexed and hopeless, must still wander on 


In reasoning lost, to every doubt a prey. 

And were not space, were vacuum not allow'd, 47.') 

]n nought could bodies, then, their powers display 

Of various action : each compressing each 

To motion fatal, as already sung. 

Nor is there aught such vacant space besides, 
And MATTER close-embodied, can be traced 480 

A substance forming discrepant from each. 
Search where thou wilt, whate'er occurs to view, 
Of bulk minute, or large, though e'en its form 
Change with the hour, if tangible it prove, 
This stamps it matter, and forbids all doubt. 48.3 

But if intangible, througliout if still 
To matter pervious, act where'er it may, 
'Tis then void space, and can be nought besides. 

All things, moreo'er, a substance must evince 
Acting, or suffering act ; or, form the sphere 4.90 

In which to act or suifer. But to act, 
Or suffer action, must be matter's sole ; 
While space alone that needed sphere admits. 

Nought, then, 'twixt si'ACe and matter can subsist 
Of INTERMEDIATE SUBSTANCE : nought be traced 49-5 

By keenest efforts of th' external sense, 
Or by the meditating mind deduced. 
All else we meet with or conceive but these 
Are mere conjunctions, or events attached. 
And know the learned by conjunctions name 500 

Those powers in each perpetual that inhere, 
And ne'er can part till void or matter cease. 
Thus heat to fire, fluidity to streams. 
Weight to the rock, to all of matter touch. 
And want of touch to space. While Discord, Peace, 505 
Oppression, Freedom, Poverty, and Wealth, 
And aught that else, of matter, and of space 
Lives independent, though engendered hence. 
Are termed, and justly, by the wise events. 

E'en time, that measures all things, of itself 6 10 

Exists not ; from the mind alone produced, 
As, link by link, contemplating minute. 
Things present, past, or future : for, of time, 


From these disjoined, in motion, or at rest 

Tranquil and still, what mortal can conceive? 515 

Thus spring events to birth. The rape renowned 
Of beauteous Helen, or the fall of Tkoy^ 
Though deemed existences, yet of themselves 
Existed never : on material things, 

On place and persons acting, or coerced, 520 

Alone dependent. These revolving years 
Have long th' irrevocable doom assigned : 
And rape and conquest, as events that claimed 
From these existence, now exist no more. — 

Had ne'er been formed the matter, or the space, 525 
Whose power conjunctive gave those scenes to be ; 
No fire had e'er, from lovely Helen's eyes. 
Glanced through the bosom of the Trojan youth, 
And kindled the fierce flames of storied war : 
No giant horse the fell Achaian throngs 530 

Poured forth at night, subverting Priam's realm. 
Mark, then, how different facts exist and blend 
From VOID or matter ; and how justly termed 
Of place and body the derived events. 

Know, too, tliat bodies, in their frame consist, 535 

Part, of primordial atoms uncombined, 
And part combined and blending : these alone 
Pervious and rare ; while those so solid formed 
No force create can sever, or dissolve. 

Nor deem such solids doubtful : though so deemed 540 
By sages oft, who plausibly object 
That sound, that thunder, that the voice itself 
Breaks through domestic walls : that rigid steel 
Admits the blaze, and whitens : vitreous rocks 
Melt in the fierce volcano : gold and brass 545 

Forego their icy hardness, and alike 
Yield in the fiery conflict, and dissolve : 
That e'en the silver chalice, fiU'd with lymph 
Fervid or cold, unlocks its secret pores. 
And warms, at once, or chills th' embracing hand. 550 

Hence deem they matter pervious all, and void 
Of solid substance. But attend, benign. 
And, since right reason, and the frame of things 


Demand the verse, the muse shall briefly prove 

The seeds, the principles of matter all 555 

Both solid, and eternal, whence alone 

Springs the stupendous fabric of the world. 

Of SPACE, of MATTER, as already sung, 
Th' ENTIRE of things consists, by nature formed 
Distinct and adverse ; and existing pure 560 

Each uncontrolled of each. Where matter dwells 
Void space can ne'er be found, nor matter found. 
Search where thou wilt, where space resides and reigns. 
As space is vacant then, material seeds 
Must solid prove, perforce, and free from void. 565 

Thus, too, as vacuum dwells in all produced, 
Some solid substance must that vacuum bound : 
Nor aught of vacuum can created things 
Be proved to enclose, if solids not exist. 
Whose power alone can such enclosures form. 570 

But solids must be matter ; the prime seeds 
Of all surveyed, harmonious in their act. 
And undecayed when all decays around. 

Were there no space, th' entire of the^jgs would prove 
One boundless solid : and were nought conceived 575 

Of viewless seeds, close filling, void of space, 
Each spot possest, all then were vacuum blank. 
Thus each from each, from matter space exists 

Distinct and clear : since never all is void, 

Nor ever full ; but this from that preserved 580 

By countless atoms acting though unseen. 

These, as already sung, no powers can pierce : 

O'er blows external, o'er each vain attempt 

Of penetrative solvents, or aught else 

Philosophy reveals, triumphant still. 585 

For nought can break, of vacuum all devoid. 

Or melt," or moulder, or within admit 

Vapour, or cold, or power of pungent heat, 

By which dissolves this fabric of the Avorld. 

'Tis vacuum lays the base : as this exists, 590 

Augments, or lessens, things alone decay. 

What then is solid, and from vacuum free, 

Must undecayed, and still eternal live. 
Were matter not eternal, ages since 


All had returned to nothing whence it sprang, 595 

And from that nothinj' all ajiain revived. 

But since from nothing nought can ever rise, 

As proved above, nor aught to nothing shrink, 

Seeds there must be of ever-during date, 

To which, perpcitual, things dissolve, or whence 600 

Flows the fresh pabulum that all repairs. 

But seeds thus simple must be solid too ; 

Else unpreserved through countless ages past, 

And useless to recruit th' exhausted world. 

Else friction, too, had injured: each by each 605 

Through myriad years abraded, and reduced. 
Till nought conceptible had lived to rear. 
Each in its time, the progenies of earth : 
For all is wasted easier than renewed. 
And hence, had all been thus disturbed, dissolved, 610 
And frittered through the long anterior lapse 
Of countless ages, future time in vain 
Would strive the ruined fragments to repair. 
But what more obvious than that bounds exist 
To matter decompounding, primal seeds 615 

To forms defined coercing ; since again 
All springs to birth, harmonious, kinds from kinds, 
True to their times, and perfect in their powers ? 

Yet, though the principles of matter thus 
Prove firm and solid, its component forms, 620 

As air, earth, vapour, or translucent stream. 
May still be soft and pliant, as combined. 
E'en from their birth, with less, or larger void. 
But had those principles themselves been reared 
Pliant and soft, then whence the sturdy steel, 625 

The close-compacted flint, or aught besides. 
Of equal texture, ti-aced through Nature's realm''' 
Thus simple solids must be still confest ; 
And all be soft, or rigid, as of these 
In more or less concentrate mode composed. 630 

To all has Nature given a bound precise 
Of being and perfection ; and promulged, 
To every varying rank, her varying laws ; 
Ursjing to this, from that restrainiuij firm. 
Nought suffers change : the feathery tribes of heaven 635 


Bear, on their glossy plumes, through every class, 

The same fixt hues that first those classes stamped. 

Hence matter too, through all its primal seeds 

Is proved immutable : for if, o'ercome 

By aught of foreign force, those seeds could change, 640 

All would be doubtful ; nor tlie mind conceive 

What miglit exist, or what might never live : 

Nor why, decide, such variance in their powers, 

And final terms of life, or instinct strong. 

Through every age, still urging every race 645 

To each pursuit, each action of their sires. 

Know, too, each seed, each substance is composed 
Of points extreme no sense can e'er detect : 
Points that, perforce, minutest of themselves. 
To parts can ne'er divide : nor self-educed, 650 

Nor, but as formed, existing, else destroyed. 
Parts such can hold not : each the first, pure part. 
Itself, of other substance : which, when joined 
Alone by kindred parts, in order due. 

Forms, from such junction, the prime seeds of things. 655 
But e'en such parts, though by the mind as parts 
Conceived, disjoined can ne'er exist ; and thence 
Adhere by firm., indissoluble bond. 

Thus seeds are simple solids, formed compact 
Of points extreme, that never can recede : 660 

Not lab'ring jointly to produce some end, 
But potent from simplicity alone, 
And hence eternal : equally unprone 
To waste or sever ; and by nature kept 
To feed the suflfering fabric of the world. 665 

Did no such points exist, extreme and least. 
Each smallest atom would be, then, combined 
Of parts all infinite ; for every part 
Parts still would boast, dividing without end. 
And, say, what difference could there, then, subsist 670 
'Twixt large and small ? for though th' enthie of Icings 
Should infinite be deemed, each smallest speck 
Still parts as infinite would hold embraced. 
But since at this the reasoning mind revolts, 
Then must it own, o'erpowered, that points exist 675 

Least by their nature, and of parts devoid : 


And solid, hence, and of eternal date. 

Hence seeds arise, the last, least parts conceived 

Of actual being : the extremest points 

To which creative Nature all resolves. 680 

Which, if not least, if still of parts possest, 

Could ne'er, with close exactitude, renew 

Tlie universal frame : all, all would rise 

Of weight diverse, and ever varying form. 

Casual in tie, in motion undefined. 685 

Yet should we grant that matter, without end. 

For ever wastes ; e'en then, from earliest time, 

Some matter must have triumphed undecayed, 

Cohering still : but what can thus cohere. 

What brave the unnumbered repercussions felt 690 

Through ages now evolved, can ne'er decay : 

Alike the future conquering as the past. 

Hence those who deem the fabric of the world 

Educed from fire, itself the source of all, 

Far wander from the truth. Thus deemed the sage, 695 

Chief of his sect, and fearless in the fight. 

Famed Heraclitus ; by the learn'd esteemed 
Of doubtful phrase, mysterious ; but revered 

By crowds of Grecians, flimsy, and untaught. 

For such th' obscure applaud ; delighted most 700 

With systems dark, and most believing true 

The silver sounds that charm th' enchanted ear. 

But whence, I ask, if all from fire proceed 

Unmixed and simple, spring created things 

So various in their natures ? Urge not here 705 

That fire condenses now, and now expands ; 

For if the same, divided or entire. 

Its parts condensed a heat can only prove 

More fierce ; and less when rarefied, and thin. 

Still all is fire. Nor canst thou e'er conceive 710 

From fire that aught can spring but fire itself. 

Much less, in fire made dense alone, or rare, 

Trace the vast variance of created things. 

Dense, too, and rare a vacuum must imply, 

As urged already ; yet full well convinced 715 

What straits surround them if a void exist, 

Such sages doubt, but, doubting, still deny; 


Fearful of danger, jet averse from truth. 

Such, too, reflect not that from things create, 

Should void withdraw, the whole at once were den e "i'^O 

One solid substance all, and unempowered 

Aught from itself t' eject, as light, and smoke 

P^hes from tiie purple flame ; evincing clear 

Its parts unsolid, and commixt with void. 

But should it still, perchance, be urged, that fires 72.") 

Perish by junction, and their substance change. 

Then must that changing substance waste to nought ; 

And thus from nought th' entire of nature spring. 

For what once changes, by the change alone 

Subverts immediate its anterior life. 730 

But still, victorious, something must exist, 

Or all to nought would perish ; and, in turn, 

From nought regerminate to growth mature. 

Yet thougli, most certain, things there are exist 
That never change, the seeds of all surveyed, 735 

Whose presence, absence, or arrangement new 
That ALL new-models, certain 'tis, alike, 
Tliose seeds can ne'er be fire. For what avails 
Such absence, presence, or arrangement new 
Of igneous matter, if the whole throughout 740 

Alike be igneous ? Change howe'er it may. 
Through every variance all must still be flame. — 
Ask'st thou whence fire proceeds then ? As I deem. 
From certain seeds to certain motions ui-ged. 
Or forms, or combinations ; which, when changed, 74o 
Change too their nature ; and, though yielding fire, 
Not fire resembling, or aught else perceived 
By human sense, or tangible to touch. 

To hold, moreo'er, as Heraclitus held, 
That all is fire, and nought besides exists 750 

Through Nature's boundless fabric, is to rave. 
T' oppose the mental sense, erroneous oft, 
To sense external, whence all knowledge flows, 
And whence himself first traced that flame exists. 
To sense he trusts, when sense discloses fire, 755 

And yet distrusts in things disclosed as clear. 
Can there, in man, be conduct more absurd ! — 
Where shall we turn us ? Where, if thus we Hy 


Those senses chief that sever true from false ? — 

Why, rather, too, should all that else exists 760 

l?e thus denied, and fire alone maintained, 
Than fire denied, and all maintained besides? 
Tenets alike preposterous and wild. 
Hence those, in fire, who trace the rise of things, 
And nought but fire ; or those for air who strive 76.3 
As source of all ; or those the dimpling stream 
Who fondly fancy ; or the ponderous earth, 
For each has armed its champions in its turn. 
Alike wide wander from unerring truth. 

Nor wanders less the sage who air with fire 770 

Would fain commix, or limpid stream with earth ; 
Or those the whole who join, fire, ether, earth. 
And pregnant showers, and thence the world deduce. 
Thus sung Empedocles, in honest fame 
First of his sect ; whom Agrigentum bore 775 

In cloud-capt Sicily. Its sinuous shores 
Th' Ionian main, with hoarse, unwearied wave, 
Surrounds, and sprinkles with its briny dew : 
And, from the fair JEolian fields, divides 
With narrow frith that spurns the impetuous surge. 780 
Here vast Charybdis raves : here ^^tna rears 
His infant thunders, his dread jaws unlocks. 
And heaven and earth with fiery ruin threats. 
Here many a wonder, many a scene sublime. 
As on he journeys, checks the traveller's steps ; 785 

And shows, at once, a land in harvests rich, 
And rich in sages of illustrious fame. 
But nought so wonderous, so illustrious nought. 
So fair, so pure, so lovely, can it boast, 
Empedocles, as thou ! whose song divine, 790 

By all rehearsed, so clears each mystic lore, 
That scarce mankind believed thee born of man. 
Yet e'en Empedocles, and those above. 
Already sung, of far inferior fame. 

Though doctrines frequent from their bosoms flowed 795 
Like inspiration, sager and more true 
Than e'er the Pythian maid, with laurels crowned, 
Spoke from the tripod at Apollo's shrine; 
E'en these mistook the principles of things, 


And greatly wandered in attempt so great. 800 

And, first, they deemed that motion might exist 

From VOID exempt : that things might still be rare. 

Still soften, as earth, ether, fire, or fruits. 

Or e'en the ranks of animated life. 

Though VOID commixed not Avith their varying frames. SOS 

Then, too, they held no final term ordained 

To comminuting atoms : which, through time, 

Still crumbled on, and never could be least. 

Tiiough from such points as sense itself surveys, 

Extreme and least, conjecture we may form 810 

Of points extreme, impalpable to sight, 

Least in themselves, tliat never can divide. 

With them, moreo'er, the seeds of things were formed 
Soft, and unsolid : but whate'er is soft, 
Wlrate'er unsolid, as at first they spring 8 1 5 

Fi'om other substance, must perforce decay. 
So all to nought would perish, and again 
From nought regerminate to growth mature: 
Doctrines the muse already has disproved. 
Such seeds, too, must be foes ; created each 820 

To each adverse ; and hence can never meet 
But sure perdition waits : or, chance, they part, 
Disperst abrupt, as, in contending storms. 
Wind, rain, and thunder scatter, and are lost. 

But, from such four-fold foes, could all things spring. 825 
And, sprung, to such dissolve — why rather term 
Those jarring powers the primal seeds of things. 
Than things of them ? since, in alternate course, 
Each flows from each : th' alternate form is seized, 
Th' alternate nature, through perennial time. 830 

Yet could'st thou deem such powers adverse might blend, 
And earth with fire, with ether lymph commix, 
And still retain their natures unimpaired ; 
Whilst thus retained, no living form could rise 
Traced through creation, animate, or void, 835 

As springs the verdant shrub, of reasoning soul. 
P'or each its nature, through the varying mass. 
Would still evince, and earth with air commix, 
In ceaseless strife, — and fire with crystal lympli. 
But primal seeds, whene'er the form of things 840 

Y 2 



Mutual they gender, must, perforce, assume 
An unobtrusive nature, close concealed. 
Lest aught superior rise, of power adverse, 
And thus th' harmonious union be destroyed. 

Such sages, too, from heaven, and heaven's bright fires 
Maintain that all i)roceeds : that fire drawn hence 846 

Converts to ether, etlier into showers, 
And showers benign to earth : and hence again, 
That all from earth returns : first liquid dew, 
Then air, and heat conclusive ; changing thus, 8oC 

In ceaseless revolution, changing thus 
From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven sublime : 
A change primordial seeds could ne'er sustain. 
So something still mus.t, void of change, exist ; 
Or all would perish, all to nought return ; 855 

For what once changes, by the change alone 
Subverts immediate its anterior life. 
Since, then, as sung above, these all commute 
Each into each, some seeds must still be owned 
That ne'er can change, or all to nought would waste. 860 
Hold rather, then, such seeds exist, endowed 
With powers so curious that, as now combined, 
If fire they foi-m, combine them but anew. 
Add, or deduct, give motion, or subtract. 
And all is air ; and changing thus, and changed, 865 

That things from things perpetual take their rise. 

Nor urge, still sceptic, that each hour display's 
All life protruded from the genial earth : 
Fed by the balmy air ; by luaven's own fire 
Matured ; and saved from pestilence and death 870 

Alone by showers benignant : and that hence 
Man, beast, and herbs alike exist, and thrive. 
The fact we own : we own from solid food, 
And crystal streams, man draws his daily breath, 
Of nerve, of bone, of being else deprived : 875 

But, owning, add, the compounds meet for man, 
For brute, for herbage, ditter in their kinds, 
By difftirent tastes discerned : and differ thus, 
And only thus, as formed from various seeds, 
To all tilings common, but in various modes 880 

Combined, and fitted to each rising want. 


Nor small of import are the modes diverse 

In which those seeds approach, recede, or blend : 

Since heaven, and earth, and suns, and seas immense, 

Herbs, instinct, reason, all are hence derived : 885 

The mode but changed, the matter still the same. 

Thus, though the lines, these doctrines that recite, 

Flow from the same fixt elemental types, 

Yet line from line, in sense, in sound compared, 

Egregious differs. Re-arranged alone, 890 

Such the vast power by graphic types possest ! 

Start not when told, then, that the seeds of things 

Boast powers superior, and can all create. 

From such mistakes, detected and exposed, 
Now turn we : and in order next survey 895 

Those docrines first the Grecian schools imbibed 
From sapient Anaxagoras, by them 
Termed Ho.M(E05Iery ; a phrase ourselves, 
In tongue deficient, never can translate. 
But these its institutes: that bone from bones, 900 

Minute, and embryon, nerve from nerves arise, 
And blood from blood, by countless drops increased. 
Gold, too, from golden atoms, earths concrete 
From earths extreme ; from fiery matters fire. 
And lymph from limpid dew. And thus throughout 905 
From primal kinds that kinds perpetual spring. 
Yet void he granted not in aught create. 
Nor POINTS EXTREME that never can divide. 
In both erroneous, and with those deceived 
Classed in our numbers, and opposed above. 910 

Too feeble, too, the rudiments he chose, 
If rudiments they be, that hold, at once. 
The powers of things, and form the things themselves. 
All toil alike, and perish void of aid : 

For, when the hour of dissolution draws, 915 

Say, which can baflle the dread fangs of death ? 
Can ether, lymph, or fire ? can nerve, or bones ? 
In each the strife were vain : since all produced, 
Surveyed, or viewless, impotent alike, 

jNIust yield to fiite, and perish unredeemed. 920 

But things produced to nought can never fall, 
Or fallen, regerminate, as proved above. 


Food rears the body, and its growth sustains : 
But well we know its tendons, nerves, and blood, 
Hence all matured, are foreign and unlike. 925 

If, then, each food be compound, if commixt 
With miniatures of all, of blood and nerve, 
Of bone and veins ; each food compact, or moist, 
Of parts unlike must then itself consist ; 
Of bone, of blood, of tendon, vein, and nerve. 930 

Thus all things spring from earth : but if in earth 
All lurk enveloped, earth of forms consists 
Strange, and discordant, panting for the (lay. 
Change still the picture, and the same still flows: 
In timbers, thus, if smoke, flame, ashes blend, 935 

Then, too, those timbers hostile parts comprise. 

But, here, the ready answer, framed of yore, 
By him, the founder of the system, springs: 
That, though in all things all things lurk commixt. 
What most prevails, what boasts the largest share, 940 
Lies superficial, and is noticed chief. 
Fruitless remark, unsolid, and untrue. 
For still, at times, when crushed to dust minute 
Beneath the pond'rous mill-stone's mighty orb 
The crumbling corn with human blood must weep, 945 
Or aught besides of fluid found in man, 
And stain with hues obscene : and still, at times, 
Each herb unfold the balmy milk so sweet. 
That swells the fleecy flock, or odorous kine. 
Tl«j furrowed glebe, the labouring plough beneath, 950 
Must, too, develope, in its secret womb. 
Plants, fruits, and foliage, oft dispersed, and hid : 
And, to the woodman, the cleft stock disclose 
With ashes smoke, and smoke commixt with fire. 
These, facts deny : in things things ne'er exist ; 955 

But seeds of things, in various modes arranged. 
Various themselves : whence rises all surveyed. 

But should'st thou urge that oft beneath the storm, 
When rubbed by many a repercussion rude, 
Branch against branch, the forest's topmost height 960 
Has blazed from tree to tree ; the fact we grant : 
Not, Avith each trunk, that native fires combine; 
But that perpetual friction quick collects 


Their seeds dispersed ; hence gathering ten-fold force, 

And flame engendering. For could fire itself 9Co 

A. part constituent of the forest form, 

No hour could hide the mischief; every tree 

Would blaze, and burn till boundless ruin reigned. 

See, then, as earlier sung, how much imports 
Th' arrangement, motion, magnitude, and form 970 

Of primal seeds combined : and how the same, 
Transposed but little, fuel quick convert 
To flame, bright blazing up the swarthy flue : 
As FLUE and fuel, terms of different sound. 
Of different sense, their letters but transposed, 97.' 

Each into each converts with magic speed. 

But should'st thou urge that all things still may flow 
From primal seeds, and yet those seeds possess 
The form, the nature of the things themselves ; 
The scheme falls self-destroyed. — For then, must seeds 980 
Hold powers adverse ; and laugh, and shake their sides, 
While tears of anguish down their cheeks distil. 

Come, now, and mark perspicuous what remains. 
Obscure the subject : but the thirst of fame 
Burns all my bosom ; and through every nerve 98o 

Darts the proud love of letters, and the muse. 
I feel th' inspiring power ; and roam resolved 
Through paths Pierian never trod before. 
Sweet are the springing founts with nectar new ; 
Sweet the new flowers that bloom : but sweeter still !^i90 
Those flowers to pluck, and weave a roseate wreath, 
The muses yet to mortals ne'er have deigned. 
With joy the subject I pursue ; and free 
The captived mind from Superstition's yoke. 
With joy th' obscure illume ; in liquid verse, 995 

Graceful, and clear, depicting all surveyed: 
By reason guided. For as oft, benign. 
The sapient nurse, when anxious to enforce 
On the pale boy, the wormwood's bitter draught. 
With luscious honey tints the goblet's edge, 1000 

Deceiving thus, while yet unused to guile. 
His unsuspecting lip ; till deep he drinks, 
And gathers vigour from the venial cheat : 
So I, since dull the subject, and the world 


Abashed recoils, would fain, in honeyed jthrase, 1005 

Tuned by the muses, to thine ear recite 

Its vast concerns ; if liaply I may hope 

To fix thine audience, while the flowing verse 

Unfolds the nature, and the forms of things. 

Tauglit then, already that material seeds 1010 

Are solid, and o'er time triumphant live. 
Attend, benignant, while we next decide 
Their number, or if infinite ; and tell, 
Since VOID throughout exists, assigning space 
For place and motion, if th' entire of things 101 o 

Be bounded, or unfathomed, and immense. 

Til' ENTIRE of things, then, bounds can never know : 
Else parts possest of fartliest and extreme. 
But parts can only be extreme, beyond 
Where other substance springs, those parts extreme 1020 
Binding, though sense the limit ne'er can trace. 
]f, tlien, some other substance rise, the first 
Forms not th' entire of things. Whate'er it be 
That other substance still must part compose. 
Vain too is distance : the vast whole alike 1025 

To all extends, embracing, and embraced. 

Yet grant th' entire of things of bound possest. 
Say, to what point sliall yon keen archer, placed 
E'en on its utmost verge, his dart direct ? 
Shall auglit obstruct it, or the path be clear? 1030 

Take which thou wilt : some substance choose, possest 
Of power t' impede, and check its rapid race : 
Or let it fly unconquered, nor restraint 
E'en once encounter: thou must still confess 
Th* entire of nature nought of limit knows. 1035 

Throughout the dart I'll chase ; and when, at length, 
Th' acceded bound is gained, I'll still demand 
What yet obstructs it ; still new proofs adduce 
That the vast Avhole is boundless ; and that flight 
Still beyond fliglit for ever might be urged. 1040 

Were, too, tli' entire of nature thus confined. 
Thus circumscribed precise, from its own weight 
Long since, all matter to the extremest depth 
Had sunk supine : nor aught the skies beneath, 
Nor skies themselves, with countless stars adorned 10-15 


And sun's unsuffering splendour, had remained. 

Down, down tli' accumulated mass had fallen 

From earliest time, devoid of power to rise. 

But nought of rest supine material seeds 

Evince through nature ; since no depth exists 1050 

Extreme, and fathomable where those seeds 

Might fix collected in inert repose. 

All, all is action : the vast whole alike 

Moves in each part ; and, from material seeds, 

Draws, undiminished, its eternal food. 1055 

Things, to the sense, are circumscribed by things. 
Air bounds the hills, and hills the liquid air : 
Earth ocean, ocean eartli : but the vast whole 
What fancied scene can bound ? O'er its broad realm, 
Immeasured, and immeasurably spread, 1060 

From age to age resplendent lightnings urge, 
In vain their flight perpetual ; distant, still, 
And ever distant from the verge of things. 
So vast the space on opening space that swells. 
Through every part so infinite alike. 1065 

Ask thy own reason. It will prove at once 
Th' ENTIRE of nature never can have bounds. 
Void must perforce bound matter, matter void ; 
Thus mutual, one illimitable whole 

Forming for ever. J'or were each of each 1070 

Free and unshackled, uncombined, and pure 
In their own essence, not one short-lived hour 
Could earth, or ocean, the refulgent fane 
Of heaven sublime, or mortal forms, or those 
The gods themselves inhabit, then subsist. 1075 

Freed from all order, disarranged, and rude, 
Through boundless vacuum the drear mass of things 
Would quick be borne : or, ratlier, nought had risen 
From the crude chaos, joyless, and inert. 
For never, doubtless, from result of thought, 1080 

Or mutual compact, could primordial seeds 
First harmonize, or move with powers precise. 
But ever changing, ever changed, and vext, 
From earliest time, through ever-during space, 
With ceaseless repercussion, every mode 1085 

Of motion, magnitude, and shape essayed ; 


At length tli' unwieldy mass the form assumed 

Of things created. Persevering, thus, 

Through many an age, unnumbered springs the deep 

Feed with perpetual tides: by the warm sun 1090 

Sustained, and cherished, earth renews her fruits, 

And man, and beast survive ; and ether glows 

With living lights innum'rous : scenes throughout 

'Twerevain t' expect, from all eternal time. 

Had no primordial seeds, in stores immense, lOQo 

Been ever nigh to renovate the world. 

For as, of food deprived, the languid frame 

Of man must perish, so th' entire of things 

Must instant cease, sliould once primordial seeds 

Their aid withhold, or deviate in their course. 1 100 

Nor deem from mutual impulse, things with things 

Can sole their forms preserve ; th' eternal seeds 

INIay, hence, be oft restrained, and e'en perchance, 

Their flight delayed, till, from th' exhaiistless store, 

Fresh seeds arrive the fainting frame to feed : 1 105 

But from concussion, frequent, they rebound, 

Dissolve all tie, and leave to transient rest 

The common matter whence each substance springs. 

Hence must incalculable seeds exist 

Ceaseless in act ; and the vast whole derive 111) 

Alone from boundless matter impulse due. 

But fly, O Memmius, fly the sect deceived, 
Who teach that things, with gravitation firm, 
To the vast centre of th' entire, alike. 
Unerring press : the world who fain would prove 1 1 15 
Void of external impulse, may subsist, 
And nought its post desert, profound, or high, 
Since of such gravitating power possest. 
For canst thou deem that aught may thus sustain. 
And poise itself? that aught of solid weight, 1120 

Placed at eartli's utmost depth, could upwards strive 
Reversed ; and to the surface — (in the stream 
As spreads tlie downwards shadow) — still adhere ? 
For thus such sages hold : thus man, and beast 
Subsist, they teach, inverted, earth beneath: 1125 

From their firm station, down their deeper skies 
As unexposed to fall, as towards the heavens 


Ourselves to mount sublime: by them the sun, 

When night to us unfolds his stars, surveyed ; 

And equal measuring, in alternate course, 1130 

With us, their months, their darkness, and their day. 

Such are the specious fancies error feigns, 

In idle hour, to minds perverse and vain. 

Where all is infinite, what spot precise 

Can e'er be central? or were centre owned, 1135 

Why towards such spot should matter rather tend, 

Than elsewhere more remote, and deeper still ? 

For vacant space, through every part alike, 

Central or not, must yield to things compact, 

And pond'rous, as their varying weight compels ; 1140 

Nor through the boundless void one point exists 

Where things may rest, as if of weight deprived. 

No power it boasts t' uphold ; but still recedes, 

As Nature prompts, and opes the needed path. 

Hence, by the love alone of centre struck, 1 145 

Th' harmonious frame of things could ne'er be formed. 

Moreo'er such sages urge not that the whole 
Strives towards the centre equal ; but terrene 
Alone, and fluid matters ; the deep main, 
The mountain cataract, and the forms produced 1150 

From earth Dedalian : while the breezy air, 
And the light flame, far from such centre stray. 
Through ether trembling, and, with lambent fire, 
Feeding, through time, the sun's refulgent blaze ; 
As feeds maternal earth the myriad forms 1155 

Of herbs, and trees, and animated life. 
From her own bosom nurtured, and sustained. 
Thus, too, they teach that heaven, with bound sublime, 
Encircles all things, lest the world's wide walls. 
And all enveloped, volatile as flame, 1160 

Burst every bond, and dissipate, and die : 
Lest heaven in thunders perish, and below 
The baseless earth forsake us, downward urged : 
And loose, and lifeless, man's dissev'ring fj-ame, 
]\Iixt with the rushing wreck of earth, and skies, 1165 

Waste through all space profound ; till nought remain, 
Nought, in a moment, of all now surveyed. 
But one blank void, one mass of seeds inert. 


For once to act, when primal atoms fail, 

Fail where they may, the doorg of death are ope, 1170 

And the vast whole unbounded ruin whelms. 

These subjects if, with trivial toil, thou scan, 
Each, each illuming, midnight shall no more 
Thy patii obstruct ; but Nature's utmost depths 
Shine as the day : so things irradiate things. 1 1 7.5 

BOOK 11. 

How sweet to stand, when tempests tear the main, 

On the firm cliff, and mark the seaman's toil ! 

Not that another's danger soothes the soul. 

But from such toil how sweet to feel secure ! 

How sweet, at distance from the strife, to view 5 

Contending hosts, and hear the clash of war ! 

But sweeter far on Wisdom's height serene, 

Upheld by Truth, to fix our firm abode ; 

To watch the giddy crowd that, deep below, 

For ever wander in pursuit of bliss ; 10 

To mark the strife for honours, and renown, 

For wit and wealth, insatiate, ceaseless urged, 

Day after day, with labour unrestrained. 

O wretched mortals ! — race perverse and blind ! 
Through what dread dark, what perilous pursuits, 15 

Pass ye this round of being ! — know ye not 
Of all ye toil for Nature nothing asks. 
But for the body freedom from disease. 
And sweet, unanxious quiet, for the mind ? 

And little claims the body to be sound : 20 

But little serves to strew the paths we tread 
With joys beyond e'en Nature's utmost wish. 
What tliougli the dome be wanting, wiiose proud walls 
A thousand lamps irradiate, propt sublime 
By frolic forms of youtlis in massy gold, l',5 

Flinging their splendours o'er the midnight feast : 
Though gold and silver blaze not o'er the board. 


Nor music echo round the gaudy roof? 

Yet listless laid the velvet grass along 

Near gliding streams, by shadoAvy trees o'er-arched, 30 

Such pomps we need not ; such still less when spring 

Leads forth her laughing train, and the warm year 

Paints the green meads with roseat flowers profuse. 

On down reclined, or wrapped in purple robe, 

The thirsty fever burns with heat as fierce 35 

As when its victim on a pallet pants. 

Since, then, nor wealth, nor splendour, nor the boast 
Of birth illustrious, nor e'en regal state 
Avails the body, so the free-born mind 
Their aid as little asks. Unless, perchance, 40 

The warlike host thou deem, for thee arrayed 
In martial pomp, and o'er the fiery field 
Panting for glory ; and the gorgeous fleet, 
For thee unmoored, and ardent, — can dispel 
Each superstitious terror ; from the breast 45 

Root out the dread of death, and lull to peace 
The cares, the tumults that distract thy soul. 
But if all this be idle, if the cares, 
The TERRORS still that haunt and harass man. 
Dread not the din of arms — o'er kings and chiefs' 50 

Press unabashed, unawed by glittering pomp, 
The purple robe unheeding — canst thou doubt 
Man pants for these from poverty of mind. 
Wandering in darkness, and through life misled ? 

For as the boy, when midnight veils the skies, 55 

Trembles, and starts at all things, so, full oft, 
E'en in the noon men start at forms as void 
Of real danger as the phantoms false 
By darkness conjured, and the school-boy's dread. 
A terror this the radiant darts of day 60 

Can ne'er disperse : to truth's pure light alone, 
And wisdom yielding, intellectual suns. 

Come, then, and mark how seeds primordial form 
Created things, and how, when formed, dissolve : 
Their force, their action, whence, and power to move, 65 
Pass, and repass, through all th' immense of space : 
Benign attend, while thus the muse explains. 

Doubtless no substance boasts a bond within 


Indissoluble, since each gradual wastes, 

And, in the lapse of time, flies off entire, 70 

]iy age o'erpowered. Yet the great mass of things 

Still meets tlie view uninjured, from the stores 

Sustained of primal atoms. These, as oft 

Their punctual flight they take, each form decrease, 

And, as they join, augment : hence things attain 75 

Their growth mature, and thence their sure decay. 

Thus, void of rest, the changeful world renews. 

And man on man lives mutual ; nations thus 

Flourish, or fade ; a few brief years roll round, 

And sire to son, through every reasoning rank, 80 

Yields, like a racer o'er the busy course. 

His lamp of life, and instant disappears. 

Who deems primordial atoms e'er can rest, 
And, resting, urge through matter motion still, 
Far wanders from the truth. Primordial seeds, 85 

Through space unfathomed as their flight they wing, 
From their own gravitating power must pass, 
Or blows extrinsic ; each o'er each, alike. 
Casual prevails : for oft the mass of seeds 
That prone descends, with seeds repugnant meet 90 

In contest tough, and distant far rebound. 
Nor wondrous this, of firmest texture formed. 
And nought t' obstruct the retro-cursive flight. 
And though thou trace the seeds unequal heaped 
Of primal matter, still, reflect, tli' entire 95 

Knows nought of bottom, nought of spot profound 
Where they may rest collected : space throughout 
Boundless exists, as, in our earlier verse, 
Decisive proved, on every side immense. 

Since, then, primordial seeds tlirough space profound 
Repose can never know: but rather, urged 101 

To ceaseless motions, varying and adverse, 
By the rude conflict part far oflT rebound, 
And part with speed unite, the severing blow 
Surmounted soon. Hence those, through trivial space 105 
Briefly repelled, the vigorous bond scarce broke, 
With quick reunion intertwining strong, 
Form tlie rude ])ase of flints, and rigid steel, 
And matters firm alike : wliile those bevond. 


Far wandering through the void, of feebler link 110 

Mutual possest, the liquid air create, 

And the pure light the sun perpetual pours. 

Nor these the whole compose. For seeds there are 
That through the boundless void for ever stray. 
Of social bond abhorrent, and in turn 115 

Refused all compact in the frame of things : 
Not unresembling, if aright I deem. 
Those motes minute that, when th' obtrusive sun 
Peeps through some crevice in the shuttered shade, 
The day-dark hall illuming, float amain 120 

In his bright beam, and wage eternal war. 
There may'st thou view them, now in crowds combine. 
Now part discordant, o'er the restless scene 
Urging the pigmy battle ; and may'st hence 
Learn what vast contests oft mid primal seeds, 12.5 

Ceaseless, prevail, through boundless space propelled. 
Thus things minute instruct us, and unfold 
The laws, at times, of things momentous most. 

Such motes, moreo'er, and let the sage remark 
Impress thy judgment, agitated thus 130 

In the pure sun-beam, from the strife alone 
Prove, in their primal seeds, some motion lurks 
Unseen, and secret, whence the pigmy mass 
Draws motion flrst. For oft the curious eye 
Sees the light goss, by viewless force subdued, 135 

Turn from tlie path selected, backwards urged. 
Now here, now thei-e, through every point propelled. 
Such the perplexing power of primal seeds. 

From seeds all motion springs ; by impulse hence 
Through molecules minute of seeds conjoined, 140 

Nearest in power, protruded, though unseen. 
Hence urged again, in turn, through things create 
Of ampler form, till soon the sense itself 
The congregated action marks distinct. 
As in the lucid beam's light woof we trace 1 45 

Still motion visual, though unseen its source. 

Nor small the motive power of primal seeds. 
This, Memmius, should'st thou doubt, we thus confirm : 
When first Aurora, o'er the dewy earth, 
Spreads her soft light, and through the patliless grove 150 


A thousand songsters ope their liquid throats, 

All ether charming — sudden we survey 

Th' eifusive sun, as with a garment, deck 

With his own radiance all created things ; 

Instant in speed, unhounded in his blaze. 155 

But the bright fluid, the pure stream he throws, 

Flows not without resistance ; many a wave, 

Through space profound, etiiereal checks its flight; 

And many a self-engendered power perverse. 

Reared from its complex frame : perpetual hence 160 

Lags the light fluid, doomed to double strife. 

But primal atoms, firm and solid sole 

From pure simplicity, when tlirough void space 

Free and unchecked their easy course they wing, 

One in themselves, at once their goal attain. 165 

Hence than the rapid light more rapid still 

Rush they, in equal hour througli ampler space 

Urged, than the beams that gild the glowing vault. 

No pause for council need they, no delay. 

Nor deep research to sever right from wrong, 170 

Or prove what path their duty bids pursue. 

Yet some there are, untaught, who dare contend 
Primordial matter ne'er without the gods 
Thus, in nice symmetry, to please mankind, 
Could form th' alternate seasons, rear the fruits 175 

That gladden life, or urge those gentler joys. 
Gay Pleasure, guide and goddess of the world, 
Prompts in the panting breast, lest every tribe 
Should fail on earth, the rites of Venus spurned. 
These from the gods, as sovereign cause of all, 180 

Such sophists trace, wide wandering from the truth. 
For, though the rise of things I ne'er could prove, 
Yet dare I, from the heaven's defective frame, 
And many a scene alike perverse, affirm 
No power divine this mass material reared 185 

With ills so pregnant. This, in order due, 
The muse shall full demonstrate : turn we now 
To what of motion yet remains unsung. 

And here, Memmius ! mark tliis precept well ; 
That nought corporeal, of itself, can e'er 190 

Ascend sublime through regions urged above. 


Nor let th' aspiring flame, with specious boast, 

Heedless deceive thee. True, with upward flight, 

E'en from the first, its spreading spires unfold ; 19.3 

And fruits and plants their growth still upwards urge. 

Yet as the weight by all possest, below 

Drives all things, deem not thou, when the bright blaze 

Flames through th' affi'ighted house, the crackling roof 

Tumbling precipitate, then deem not thou 200 

It mounts spontaneous but from foreign force. 

Thus, from the wounded vein, the vital blood 

Ascends, and pours its purple strength sublime : 

And springs not thus the ponderous trunk immersed 

In the clear stream, rejected by the wave ? 205 

Though deep we plunge it, with redoubled force 

Still back it bounds, and, o'er th' elastic tide, 

Rears half its solid bulk. Yet doubt we not, 

Spite of such facts, that all things, uncontrolled, 

Through .space tend downward. From control alone 210 

The lambent flame thus mounts, towards heaven impelled, 

Else prone from native weight. Falls not, at night, 

The mimic star, the meteor trailing long 

Its line of fire, whene'er, amid the gloom, 

Th' elastic ether opes the needed path ? 215 

The mid-day sun flings down his rays direct 

And sows the fields with light : and the dread flash. 

When thunder rends the skies, though wide it dart, 

Now here, now there, amid the rushing rain. 

Its forky fires — spends its chief strength on earth. 220 

This, too, regard intent ; that primal seeds. 
When down direct their potent path they urge, 
In time uncertain, and uncertain space, 
Oft from the right decline — yet so minute 
Veer they, no fancy less can e'er conceive. 225 

Without this devious curve primordial seeds 
Would drop successive, like the crystal shower. 
Void of all contest, all re-active blow, 
Whence Nature sole her world of wonders works. 

If, then, tliere be, who deem the seeds of things 230 

More ponderous, as their rectilinear course 
Speeds through tlie void, the lighter soon may reach, 
And thus the repercussive war commence, — 


Far err they from the truth. For thouj^h, when urged 

Through the pure air, or clear translucent wave, 235 

Doubtless, all ponderous forms more swift descend; 

This, from the variance of resistance sole, 

Flows, by such fluids formed 'gainst things unlike, 

The grosser quick o'erpowering. But pure space, 

In every part, in every hour the same, 240 

Throughout resists not, the demanded path 

Yielding submissive. Hence, in equal time. 

Through the blank void, unequal weights descend 

Of every fancied variance : and hence, too, 

Th(i grosser ne'er the lighter urged below 245 

Can gain, triumphant ; or the contest rouse 

Whence spring new motions, and all nature lives. 

Hence doubly flows it why the seeds of things 

Should from the right decline ; yet, in degree, 

The least conceptibly, lest we should deem 250 

The line oblique which Nature ne'er assumes. 

For nought more obvious, as the sight confirms, 

Tlian that all weights, their downward course at will 

Steering, obliquely never can descend ; 

But what keen sight of man can prove precise 255 

That the swift cadence ne'er declines at all ? 

Had all one motion uniform, the new 

Til' anterior skilful copying, if throughout 

Primordial seeds declined not, rousing hence 

Fresh springs of action, potent to subvert 260 

The bonds of fate, and break the rigid chain 

Of cause on cause, eternal, — whence, resolve, 

Flows through the world this freedom of the mind .'* 

This power to act, though fate the deed forbid, 

Urged by the will alone ? The free-born mind 265 

Acts, or forbears, spontaneous ; its own time. 

Its place, alike uncertain : these the will, 

Doubtless, alone determines, and, at once. 

Flies the fleet motion through th' assenting frame. 

Dost thou not see, as down the barrier drops ?7'v) 

That reins the racer, instant though he dart, 

Not half so instant darts he as his soul 

Ambitious covets ? Deep through all his frame 

Th' elastic nerves must first the wish convey 


Ere yet the consentaneous flight succeed. 275 

Hence, obvious, springs all motion from the heart, 
. Roused by the mind's resolve, and instant urged 
Through every nerve, through every quivering limb. 
A force far different this than e'er prevails 
When aught without coerces. Passive, then, 280 

Bends all the frame th' extrinsic power beneath, 
Borne down reluctant ; till th' awakening will 
Unchains each member, and resumes her rierht. 
For oft, though foreign force, with tyrant sway, 
Rule us, resistless, headlong hurrying down — 285 

Say — lurks no adverse something in the breast 
Proud to withstand ? full oft, at whose control. 
Swift flows the nervous tide from limb to limb, 
Bursting each bond — and, oft, as swift retires? 
Hence firm maintain we primal seeds some cause 290 

Must feel of rising motion unbestowed 
By weight, or blow reactive, whence alone 
Upsprings this secret power by man possest : 
Nought forming nought, as reason proves precise. 
For weight forbids the credence that alone 295 

Things by reaction move ; yet, lest the mind 
Bend to a stern necessity within. 
And, like a slave, determine but by force, — 
Though urged by weight, in time, in place unfixt. 
Each primal atom trivial still declines. 300 

Nor interstitial more, nor more compact. 
Was e'er this frame of matter ; nor ausment 
Priraajval seeds, nor e'er admit decay. 
Hence every movement in anterior time 
That e'er subsisted, still subsists the same, 305 

And will through endless ages : all begot. 
Begotten must be, punctual to their kinds. 
Exist, increase, and perish ; following firm 
The laws by Nature framed ; nor aught of power, 
Act where it may, can change th' entire of things. 310 
For nought expands of spot where primal seeds 
From the vast whole may fly ; or e'er afresh, 
Armed with new powers, re-enter, adverse thus 
To Nature's plans, disorganizing all. 

Nor this stupendous, that, though primal seeds 315 

z 2 


Move on incessant, and, through different forms, 

Rouse different actions, the vast whole to sense 

Rests undisturbed. For far beyond all ken, 

Lies the prime base impalpable of things. 

As this eludes all vision, so, alike, o20 

Its motion too elude. E'en oft the sight 

No motion marks where still the moving scene 

Springs obvious, by the distance sole concealed. — 

The fleecy flocks, o'er yonder hill that browse 

From glebe to glebe, where'er, impearled with dew, 325 

The jocund clover calls them, and the lambs 

That round them gambol, saturate with milk, 

Proving their frontlets in the mimic fray — 

Press, at this distance, on the sight confused. 

One white mass forming o'er the verdant steep. 330 

Thus, too, when warlike squadrons crowd the field. 

Horrent in arms, witli horses scarce restrained, 

.Shaking the solid glebe, while the bright pomp 

Flames through the skies, and gilds tlie glowing earth. 

While groans the ground beneath their mighty tread, 335 

And hills and heavens re-echo to their shouts — 

Viewed from afar, the splendid scene that spreads 

Seems void of motion, to the fields affixt. 

Come now, my friend, and, next, perspicuous mark 
What countless shapes primordial seeds assume, 340 

How vast their variance : for, though myriads swarm 
0:' equal figures, oft unlike they meet. 
Nor wondrous tliis, since, such th' abundance formed. 
No bounds can chain, no numbers e'er compute. 
Hence, not unfrequent, each from each, through space, 345 
Must meet diverse, unkindred in their frames. 

Thus Nature varies ; man, and brutal beast. 
And herbage gay, and silver fishes mute. 
And all the tribes of heaven, o'er many a sea, 
Through many a grove that wing, or urge their song 350 
Near many a bank of fountain, lake or rill. 
Search where thou wilt, each differs in his kind, 
In form, in figure differs. Hence alone, 
Knows the fond mother her appropi-iate young, 
Th' appropriate young their mother, 'mid the brutes, 355 
As clear discerned as man's sublimer race. 


Thus oft before the sacred shrine, perfumed 

With breathing frankincense, th' affrighted calf 

Pours o'er the altar, from his breast profound, 

The purple flood of life. But wandering wild 360 

O'er the green sward, the dam, bereft of hope. 

Beats witli her cloven hoof th' indented dale, 

Each spot exploring, if, perchance, she still 

May trace her idol ; through th' umbrageous grove. 

With well-known voice, she moans ; and oft re-seeks, 365 

Urged by a mother's love, the accustomed stall. 

Nor shade for her, nor dew-distended glebe, 

Nor stream soft gliding down its banks abrupt, 

Yields aught of solace ; nor the carking care 

Averts, that preys within ; nor the gay young 370 

Of others soothe her o'er the joyous green : 

So deep she longs, so lingers for her own. 

Thus equal known, thus longed for, seek, in turn. 

The tender heifer, tremulous of voice. 

And the gay bleating lamb, their horned dams, 375 

Lured by the milky fount that nurtures life. 

The corn, moreo'er, the yellow harvest yields, 
Matures not all alike ; — e'en the same kind 
In size oft varying to the curious eye. 
Thus vary, too, th' enamelled shells, that paint 380 

The bending shore ; whose thirsty sands drink deep 
The main's soft waves, redundant rolled along. 
Hence doubly flows it why the seeds of things, 
Compact by nature, by mechanic art 

Shaped not to one fixt model, each from each 385 

Should diflFer oft in figure through the void. 

Illumined thus, the mind with ease decides 
Why heaven's electric flash a subtler power 
Boasts, than the flame by torches fed below : 
That formed than this of atoms finer far, 390 

Triumphant piercing many a pore minute 
By the dull taper's blaze essayed in vain. 

Light, the clear glass pervades, while lymph recoils : 
Whence springs the difference, but that subtler seeds 
Rear the bright sun-beam than the fountain form ? 395 

Free through the strainer flows the sparkling wine, 
While the slow oil hqnes heavy : in its course 


Checked, or by atoms of a grosser frame, 

Or more perplexed, and tangled ; each from each 

Hence severing tardy, and, with toil extreme, 400 

Transuding separate through th' attenuate lawn. 

Tlius vary tastes : and while the dulcet draught 
Of milk or honey charms the enchanted lip, 
The wormwood straight convulses, by the tongue 
Abhorred, and writhing every sapid nerve. 405 

Hence may'st thou learn those seeds that rouse, combined, 
A joyous flavour, round exist, and smooth ; 
While those that form the bitter, and austere, 
Are hook'd, or jagged, and their path propel 
Alone by wounding, hostile to the sense. 410 

Thus all things live ; from primal atoms reared 
Of shape diverse, as deep within they ope 
Some secret source of pleasure or of pain. 
So deem not thou the saw's discordant scream, 
Horrid, and harsh, flows from the same smooth seeds 415 
That wake the strain mellifluous, when the fair, 
With flying fingers, sweeps th' accordant lyi'e. 
Nor deem those atoms like, from putrid scenes 
That spring malignant, and the essential sweets 
Breathed from Cilician safl"ron, or the blaze 420 

Of fragrant altars fed from orient groves. 
Nor canst thou form from the same source those hues, 
On which the vision feeds with fond delight. 
And those abhorred, and hideous, or the germs 
Pungent and keen, that rouse the sight to tears. 425 

'Twere vain t' attempt : for all the soul that wakes 
To various pleasure, boasts a base rotund ; 
While pain but springs from atoms hook'd and harsh. 

Yet seeds there are between ; not smooth complete, 
Nor deeply jagged, but with angles shaped 430 

Just peeping o'er the surface. These the nerves 
Pain not, but titillate ; a sense perceived 
When sweets with bitters, sours with sweets combine, 
As oft in sauces, catered to the taste 
From the pale inula, or grape's soft grounds. 435 

But fii'es and frosts spring difTerent ; from a base 
Unlike indented, though indented each. 
This if thou doubt, the touch shall quick decide. 


For TOUCH, O TOUCH ! ye powers of heaven supreme ! 
Touch forms the genuine sense whence chief we trace 440 
Whate'er without insinuates, or within 
Springs up innate, injurious in th' escape, 
Or, like the genial tide by Venus roused. 
Pregnant with pleasure ; or, perchance, the frame 
Affecting inly, as th' essential seeds 445 

Collect tumultuous, urged to civil strife. 
A feeling, this, full oft educed amain 
Whene'er th' uplifted palm, from sport or ire. 
Lets fall its vengeance o'er the reddening cheek. 
Hence, from effects so various, various too 450 

Must be the forms to primal seeds assigned. 

There are, moreo'er, that hard exist, and dense ; 
From atoms, these, more crook'd and clinging spring, 
Like tangled branches intertwined throughout. 
Such, mid the foremost, shines the diamond's blaze, 455 
Fearless of insult, such the valid flint, 
The steel's enduring vigour, and the brass 
Discordant creaking from the public gates. 
While those, reversed, a fluent power that boast 
Swell into birth from seeds rotund, and smooth, 460 

Unlinked th' essential globules, and with ease 
Poured headlong down, dissevering as they fall. 
Those, too, that quick fly off, as clouds or smoke, 
Or lambent flame, if not from seeds educed 
Rotund, and polished, doubtless, in their make 465 

Nought know perplext, or hook'd, since armed with power 
To pierce the Parian marble, nor to view 
Cohering equal, like th' embracing brier : 
Not jagged, but pointed, hence, the base they own. 

Nor wondrous this ; that things of fluent frame 470 

As the broad ocean, oft should strike the sense 
With taste unlovely ; for, though round and smooth 
The genial atoms whence all fluids flow, 
Still, seeds discordant oft will intermix, 
Rough, though globose, and by the tongue abhorred, 475 
Though fitted still the fluent mass to form. 
This to confirm, to prove with polished seeds 
Seeds harsh full oft combine, Avhence springs alone 
The main's disflavour — from the briny wave 


Tlie nauseous mass subtract, and all is sweet. J80 

Tiius Nature acts : through many a thirsty sand 

The surge she filters, freshening in its course. 

Till freed, at length, from every acrid power, 

Tangled, and fixt behind, the dulcet lymph 

Resprings to view, a calm and lucid pool. 485 

This proved, what follows, as a truth derived, 
But that the forms of seeds, though varying much, 
Ne'er vary endless ; not unfrequent, else. 
Full many a seed must boast a bulk immense : 
For many a differing figure ne'er can lurk 490 

In things minute. Deem, then, primordial seeds 
Tiiree fancied parts comprise, or grant e'en more. 
Invert their order, let the right be left, 
Depress the loftiest, the profound exalt, — 
Soon will the pigmy mass exhaust complete 495 

Its tiny change of figures : would'st thou, then, 
Augment the variance, thou must add, perforce. 
New primal matter, hence augmented sole. 
Thus from fresh forms increase of size must flow 
Perpetual ; nor the seeds of things in shape 500 

Can differ endless, or e'en once evince 
A bulk immense, as erst the Muse has proved. 

Already else the purple woof superb 
Of Melibcea, robbing for its dye 

The Syrian coasts, — already, dropt with gold, 505 

The peacock's laughing plumage else had sunk 
By gaudier hues o'erpowered. The balmy myrrh, 
The luscious honey never more had urged 
A boast unrivalled : e'en the swan's soft dirge 
Had ceased, and Phcebus dropt his liquid lyre: 510 

All things o'er all prevailing undefined. 

Thus those by sense abhorred, as these beloved, 
To more abhorred would yield ; each still o'er each, 
In sight or sound, in taste or smell diverse 
-More hateful reared, more hideous, and obscene. 515 

But since such powers exist not, since a bound 
Is stampt on all things, we must own, convinced. 
That primal seeds in shape are bounded too. 

From frost to fire, from fire to winter's frost, 
All, all has limits : heat and cold intense 520 


Th' extremes creating ; while progressive warmth 

Fills up, between, the modulated scale. 

Thus each degree, though varying, varies not 

For ever, by extremes adverse confined, 

Combustion here, and there the polar ice. 525 

But mark this truth, a truth connected close, 
That all primordial seeds, of shape alike, 
Alike are endless ; for though few the forms 
Those seeds admit, yet finite were themselves 
Th' ENTIRE of things, a doctrine erst disproved, 530 

Were finite too, by bounds surmountless chained. 

Come, then, while thus, in short, but sweetest verse, 
We prove them infinite ; prove hence alone 
The world's vast fabric lives, cemented strong 
By blows re-active unremitted urged. 535 

Few are the forms the casual sight surveys 
Of brutes exotic ; and, with us, but small 
Their unprolific power : yet foreign climes. 
And realms far distant, view each class complete. 
Boundless in number. Thus, though seldom here 540 

Heaves the huge elephant his ponderous limbs. 
Prince of the savage tribes ; yet myriads guard, 
As with an ivory mound, all India's sons ; 
A mound no power can pierce. Such the vast stores 
That Nature boasts in orders deemed most rare. 545 

Yet could Creation's utmost scope produce 
A form unparalleled by all that breathes, 
Alone and individual, — were the base 
Not infinite whence first the monster sprang. 
How sprang he then at all ? nor birth were his, 550 

Nor e'en, though born, the power to nurture life. 
But grant the primal atoms whence alone 
Such individual springs, were finite found. 
How, when, and where, by what concerted plan, 
What power innate, could e'er those atoms meet, 555 

Through ocean, scattered of ungenial seeds ? 
These time could never join. As when the main. 
Worked into fury, many a mighty ship 
Wrecks ruthless, and towards every coast impels 
Masts, yards, and streamers, cordage, sails, and helms, 560 
And planks disparted, teaching as they float 


What clangers lurk unseen ; what snares to lure 

Untliinking mortals ; — and forewarning loud 

To fly the smooth temptation, nor e'en once 

Trust the false waves, though decked in loudest laugh : 565 

So, should'st thou make the primal seeds of aught 

Once finite, instant the tumultuous war 

Of adverse atoms, through the boundless void 

Drives them far distant — never more to meet, 

Or met, cohere, or e'en, coliering, grow ; 570 

Facts without which Creation's self would fail, 

As all must thus proceed, augment, mature. 

And hence the primal seeds of all that live 

Must, too, be boundless, whence each want is fed. 

Nor can the mortal motions that wear out 575 

The varied forms of things, with utter doom, 
Prevail for ever : nor e'en those, reversed. 
Of genial power, that quicken into life. 
Can, through perpetual time, that life sustain. 
Thus war eternal, midst the seeds of things, 580 

With equal triumph reigns ; now here, now there, 
The vital powers o'ercoming, and o'ercome. 
The sigh funereal mingles with the bleat 
Of babes just bursting to the light of heaven ; 
Nor night o'er day, nor morn o'er night prevails, 585 

But marks the discord — Infancy's shrill cry 
Mixt with sick moans, the apparitors of Death. 

This too, attentive, treasure in thy mind : 
That nought the sight surveys, the soul (conceives. 
Flows from one class of primal seeds alone. 590 

Whate'er exists is compound ; and the more 
The latent powers, the energies it boasts, 
The more complex its nature ; reared to life 
From seeds more various, and of various shape. 

First Earth herself th' essential atoms holds 595 

Of streams and fountains, whence the main renews ; 
Holds in herself the secret seeds of fires. 
Oft the brown heath wide-parching, unperceived, 
And oft, like .^tna, blazing to the day : 
And holds each embryon, whence, to glad mankind, 600 
Springs the gay corn, the blossomed fruit-tree springs, 
Or whence the brutal tribes that roam at large 


Draw their green banquets, and possess their shades. 

Hence mighty Mother of th' Immortal Gods, 

Of brutes, and men, is Earth full frequent feigned. 605 

Her the sage bards of Greece, in ancient song, 
Paint drawn by lions in a car sublime : 
Hence, teaching how, in ether poised, she hangs, 
Unpropt by aught beneath ; the savage beasts 
They yoked and reined, to demonstrate how sure 610 

The wildest young a mother's cares may tame ; 
And, with a mural crown her brows they bound. 
Since with her towers she guards man's civic rights. 
Thus deckt, tremendous, round from realm to realm, 
Still moves the solemn pomp, by all adored. 615 

Her many a state, from holiest legends, call 
Parent of Ida ; and with Phrygian nymphs 
Surround, her fair attendants ; Phrygian termed. 
Since these the climes where first, as fame reports, 
The field was cultured, and the harvest rose. 620 

Her priests are eunuchs — emblem this devised 
To teach that sons rebellious to their sires. 
Or those the sacred fame that dare traduce 
Of her who bore them, never shall themselves. 
Worthless and vile, by gods and men abhorred, 625 

Boast aught of babe to glad their longing sight. 
With vigorous hand the clamorous drum they rouse 
And wake the sounding cymbal : the hoarse horn 
Pours forth its threatening music, and the pipe 
With Phrygian airs distracts the maddening mind, 630 
While arms of blood the fierce enthusiasts wield 
To fright th' unrighteous crowds, and bend profound 
Their impious souls before the power divine. 

Thus moves the pompous idol through the streets, 
Scattering mute blessings, while the throngs devout 635 
Strew, in return, their silver and their brass, 
Loading the paths with presents, and o'ershade 
The heavenly form, and all th' attending train 
With dulcet sprays of roses, pluckt profuse. 
A band select before them, by the Greeks 640 

Curetes called, from Phrygian parents sprung, 
Sport with fiintastic chains, the measured dance 
Weaving infuriate, charmed with human blood. 


And madly shaking their tremendous crests. 

These picture, haply, tlie Dict^an train, 645 

Alike CuKETES termed, as fame reports. 

Who drowned tlie infant cries of Jove in Crete, 

When round the boy divine, in arms they danced, 

Boys still themselves, and beat to measured sounds 

Their clashing shields, lest Saturn the shrill shriek 650 

Should trace, and Rii^a shed eternal tears. 

Thus these the matron-goddess now precede : 

Or else, perchance, they paint how every breast 

Should burn with patriot fire, and every arm 

Prove the firm guardian of a parent's years. 655 

All these, though pageants well-devised, and bold, 
Will wander still from philosophic fact. 
For, far from mortals, and tlieir vain concerns, 
In peace perpetual dwell tli' immortal gods : 
Each self-dependent, and from human wants 660 

Estranged for ever. There no pain pervades, 
Nor dangers threaten ; every passion sleeps, 
Vice no revenge, and virtue draws no boon. 

Meantime the earth sensation never knows ; 
But, blest with the rude principles of things, 665 

In various mode hence various forms she rears. 
Call, if thou choose it, the resounding deep 
Neptune, and Ceres term the golden grain ; 
Be Bacchus wine, its vulgar source forgot. 
And e'en this mass of senseless earth define 670 

Parent of gods ; no harm ensues, — but mark, 
'Tis fiction all, by vital facts disproved. 

Thus varies earth in product ; and, alike 
In primal seeds, thus varies all she bears. 
The steed, the steer, the fleecy flock that range 675 

Beneath tlie same pure sky, from the same fount 
Their thirst that quench, and o'er the flowery lawn 
Crop the same herbage, differ still, through time, 
In form generic ; each parental stamp 

Retaining close, from sire to sire propelled. 680 

Such the vast variance of primordial seeds ; 
Through every herb, through every fountain such. 
Each form, moreo'er, of animated life 
Compounded, flows from muscle, bone, and nerve, 


Vein, heat, and moisture ; yet e'en these comprise 685 
Full many an atom, each, of shape unlike. 

Thus fire itself is complex ; for if nought 
Deep blend besides, the germ,^, at least, combine 
Of heat, smoke, ashes, and translucent light : 
And reasoning thus, thy vigorous mind may deem 690 

Still powers beyond lurk deeper, though unknown. 

Of the same substance, as the fragrant gums 
Burnt o'er the altar to th' offended gods. 
Emits both taste and odour, hence from seeds 
Educed, of various figures ; odours oft 695 

Piercing the nerves that tastes essay in vain. 
And tastes where odours fail : facts that evince 
Their forms diverse ; and prove that seeds unlike 
Rear the mixt mass diffused through all that lives. — 

Mark but these fluent numbers ; many a type 700 

To many a term is common ; but the terms. 
The numbers culled, as differing these from those, 
From different types evolve : not so diverse 
That the same type recurs not through the whole, 
Or that, recurring, it recurs alone 705 

From types too bounded ; but from types alike 
Free to each term, yet ever new combined, 
Flows the vast change, th' harmonious system flows. 
Thus, through the world, the primal seeds of all. 
To all things common, re-arranged diverse, 710 

In myriad forms shoot forth ; and herbs, and men, 
And trees umbrageous own the same fixt source. 

Yet not in endless modes combine the seeds 
Of things at random ; many a monster else 
Would start tremendous, the fair frame of man 715 

Sprout forth half formed, and trunks of trees have souls. 
Shapes then would swarm half earthly, half mai'ine, 
And Nature's all-prolific womb propel. 
With breath of fire, Chimteras ; things the sight 
Meets never, since from seeds, and jiowers precise, 720 
All spring to life, and thus preserve their kinds. 

Then all must spring, since all, from every food. 
To every tribe adapted, straight digests ; 
And, blending with eacli limb, tlie train renews 
Of acts appropriate ; while th' ungenial mass 725 


Meets earth unchanged ; or if, pei'chance, absorbed, 
Flies otF impalpable through pores extreme, 
Void of all union, and for life unfit. 

Nor deem eacli animated tribe alone 
Such laws avows — all nature feels their force. 730 

For since the difference 'twixt created things 
Is total, their primordial seeds in form 
Must differ too: not that they ne'er commix 
Of equal shape, but e'en when mixt that still, 
From re-arrangement, the result is changed. 735 

Nor only in their forms thus vary seeds 
Primordial ; but, alike, in weight, and power, 
In concourse, motion, intervening space. 
And close connexion ; changes that define, 
Not men and brutes alone, but bound secure 740 

From ocean earth, and eaith from heaven sublime. 

But haste we, many a truth lies yet unsung 
Culled from my own loved labours. Deem not thou, 
When aught of substance black or white the view 
Solicits obvious, — deem not, in the germs 745 

Of embryon matter, black or white inheres, 
Or aught besides of tint, where aught occurs. 
Rousing the vision ; since the seeds of things 
Live void of colours actual or conceived. 
This should'st thou doubt, contending nought exists 750 
Through the wide world but must evince some hue. 
The doubt flows groundless. He, whose sightless orb 
Ne'er drank the day enlightened, still perceives 
Whate'er exists, though tints elude his ken. 
Hence not essential colours to the form 755 

Of things created : frequent e'en ourselves. 
Mid the deep shade of night, by touch alone 
Prove what surrounds us, every hue extinct. 

All hues, moreo'er, to all by turns convert ; 
A change primordial seeds can ne'er sustain ; 760 

Since something still tlirough nature must exist 
All change defying, lest th' entire surveyed 
Fall into nought ; for that which once admits 
Mutation dies, its pristine powers destroyed. — 
Tinge, then, with caution, the prime seeds of things, 765 
Lest, hence, thou ope the doors of death to all. 


But though material atoms thus live void 
Of hue ; still many a differing form is theirs, 
Whence hues they gender, and their variance stamp. 
Much, then, import th' arrangement, and the powers,. 770 
The kinds, connexions of primordial seeds. 
Positions, impulse, and effects impelled ; 
Since, hence, with ease the mind may, instant, trace 
Why what is black this moment, should, the next, 
Pour o'er the view with alabaster dye. 775 

Thus, when loud tempests tear the tortured main, 
The dashing surge is robed in dazzling white, 
Tliis may'st thou fathom hence, and prove precise 
Why, oft though black, from combinations new 
Of its primordial atoms, added these, 780 

And those withdrawn, oft, too, the deep should wear 
A vest contrasted, whitening to the day. 
But were its primal atoms tinged themselves 
Black, or but blue, concussion ne'er could change 
The fixt result ; nor turn the black or blue 785 

To the pure polish of the marble bust. 
Nor urge from seeds of varying tints, perchance. 
Springs, when combined, the main's resplendent face ; 
As in the cube mechanic many a shape 
Diverse unites to rear its frame complete. 790 

For as the keen sight in the cube surveys 
Those varying figures, so the splendid deep, 
Or auglit of equal lustre, would evince 
The varying tinctures whence that lustre flows. 
The differing forms, moreo'er, the cube contains 795 

Mar not its unity, but differing hues 
A blended tinge create, by each diversed. 

A cause like this, too, all effect destroys ; 
Since white or black springs not from seeds so dyed, 
But seeds commixt of various dyes possest. 800 

Thougli, doubtless, white flows rather from the want 
Of each existent tincture, than from seeds 
With black, in part, imbued, or aught besides 
Of equal contrast, and as firm a foe. 

And, since all colours live but in the light, 805 

Wel'e hues essential to the seeds of things 
These, too, would die in darkness : for, resolve. 



What hues exist beneath the midnight gloom ? 

Hues born of sun-beams, changing but their sl.ades 

As, playful, changes the refracted ray? «1C 

Thus the gay pigeon, as his plumes he waves, 

Drinks in new tinctures from the noon-tide blaze : 

Now glows the ruby, and now, tinged with blue, 

Sports the green emerald o'er his glossy neck. 

Thus, too, the peacock, as direct, or bent 81o 

Falls the full beam, wears each prismatic dye. 

Since, then, th' impinging light each hue creates, 

So, without light, each, instant, must expire. 

And as the stimulus the sight that strikes 

Varies, from things that varying dyes educe, 820 

Black, white, or aught besides, and nought imports, 

Change how it may, th' existing hue, but sole 

The different figures whence those hues are reared : 

Hence useless colours to the seeds of things, 

From varying forms by varying frictions roused. 825 

Since, too, no seeds defined with tints are stained 
Defined alike, and every shape concurs 
In all that springs, whate'er the hue evinced, 
Whence flows it, then, that every class alike 
Reflects not every tincture ? — whence that crows 830 

Robe not in white from seeds that white create ? 
Or that the downy swan, in black arrayed. 
Or hues as hideous, ne'er the sight appals ? 

As things, moreo'er, to parts minute divide, 
Th' anterior tincture fades. Thus fades away, 835 

To dust impalpable reduced, the dye 
Of gold refulgent : thus the Tyrian woof, 
Frittered to threads, its purple pride foregoes ; 
Hence proving clear that hues from things concrete 
Evanish total ere to seeds dissolved. 840 

From many a substance sound, or odour fine, 
Flies never ; nor the race of man bestows 
Odours, or sounds on all things. Judge then, hence, 
That, since not all tilings the keen sight discerns. 
Full many a substance, too, as void exists 845 

Of varying hues, as these of scent, or sound : 
Things, than which nought the mind more clear perceives, 
W^hate'er the powers possest of, or denied. 


Nor deem primordial seeds devoid alone 
Of hues prismatic. Heat, and cold severe, S50 

Moisture, and sound, these, too, they never know ; 
Nor aught of fluent odours, to the sense 
Hateful or sweet. Thus when, to please the fair, 
Some rich perfume the skilful artist plans, 
Drawn from the fragrant nard, the dulcet powers 855 

Of marjoram, and myrrh, with studious heed 
From the pure olive first a juice he seeks 
Void of all scent, for nature such prepares, 
Lest, with th' effluvia thus selected choice, 
Aught else combine, and mar th' harmonious whole. 860 

Thus void of scent primordial seeds must spring. 
Thus void of sound ; and hence nor scent, nor sound, 
Can give to things created : for themselves 
Nought can transmit but what themselves possess. 
And hence, moreo'er, the powers of heat, or cold, 865 

Vapour, or taste, these never can bestow. 
Nor aught alike destructive, aught surveyed, 
Viscous, unfirm, or fragile ; aught educed 
From bodies soft, putrescent, or relaxed ; 
These thou must sever from primordial seeds 870 

If things created on a base be built 
Immortal, whence the world's vast fabric lives, 
And nought to nought can waste with utter death. 

This full premised, now, Meiimids, mark what flows ; 
That all the sentient forms the sight surveys, 875 

Whate'er their powers, from senseless atoms spring. 
This every fact of every day, if scanned. 
Far from resisting, proves a truth most firm ; 
That sentient things, things void of sense create. 

Thus into life th' insensate dunghill rears 880 

The race of worms, when once the mingling shower 
Wakes the warm ferment through the putrid mass, 
Thus all things change to all things ; foliage, fruits, 
And the gay glebe to flocks, and herds convert ; 
And flocks, and herds to man ; and man, in turn, 885 

Feeds the foul strength of birds, and barbarous beasta. 
From eveiy food, thus Nature's chemic power 
Builds up the forms of life ; in every class 
Thus wakes the senses every class avows ; 

2 A 

354 LUCRETiue. book ti. 

As through the winter-stack full oft she spreads 890 

The rushing blaze, and turns the whole to fire. — 
Seest thou not hence, then, of what vast concern 
The modes in which primordial seeds combine, 
Act, or re-act, give motion, or accept ? 

This creed what hinders ? what perverts thy mind, 895 
And locks thy senses from a truth so plain 
That sentient things from things insensate flow ? 
What but that stocks, and stones, and earth's dull clod. 
Boast no sensation though alike educed ? — 
Yet mark, attentive, the sage muse ne'er yet 900 

Has urged that all things doubtless must alike 
Spring forth percipient, and with sense endued : 
But that of vast concern, as hence alone. 
Sensation ceaseless flows — the modes diverse 
Of motion, order, form, with which, through time, 905 

Primordial atoms blend :— modes the dull clod 
Knows not, its frame unorganized and rude. 
Tliough the dull clod, or sapless root as dull, 
Wlien the moist shower the putrid strife has roused, 
Themselves the vermin race in crowds create : 910 

Changed, then, their nature, from arrangements new, 
And lull empowered perceptive life to rear. 

Those, too, who hold that sentient forms throughout 
Spring but from sentient seeds, those seeds must deem 
Soft and unsolid, since unsolid all, 915 

And soft each region, where sensation reigns, 
Th' interior bowels, and the flesh without ; 
And hence such seeds must doubtless waste to nought. 

Yet grant their dates eternal : such must then 
The total sense possess of things they rear, 920 

Or sense of separate parts : but parts alone 
Have no perception, nor alone can live. 
Each leans on each ; the loose dismembered hand 
Drops powerless ; nor can auglit itself sustain. 
From the full form, the total sense that flows. 925 

What then remains but that each seed exists 
An animai complete, endowed througliout 
With vital functions? but resolve, how then 
Prove they the immortal principles of things ? 
Whence draw the power, possest by nought that breathes, 


To live through time, and brave the attacks of fate ? 931 

But grant e'en this : their combination still 
No forms could rear, but those of sentient life ; 
Nor men, nor herds, nor savage beasts produce 
Aught but themselves ; the sense generic shown 935 

Varying as varies the generic frame. 

Nor urge that sentient seeds, at times, perchance, 
Lose all sensation, and insensate live ; 
Why with an attribute so soon destroyed 
Robe them at all then ? Rather, mark how soon 940 

The insensate yolk incipient life betrays, 
And springs a vital chick : mark, as the muse 
Has earlier sung, how from the warm ferment 
Of earths putrescent, by the clouds bedewed, 
The vermin nations rise, with soul replete, 945 

Thus spreading sense where sense was none before. 

Nor deem sensation senseless seeds create 
Sole from some change anterior, long educed 
Ere into birth the sentient being springs. 
What more fallacious ? since nor birth complete 950 

Nor aught of change can Nature's self create 
But from the sympathy of primal seeds : 
Nor, till the frame percipient be combined, 
Can e'er perception flow ; since wide through space, 
In earth, in air, in streams, and lambent fire, 955 

Are spread the rude materials, unarranged. 
And void of social bond, whence first exists 
Each vital motion, whence each guardian sense 
Springs, and the complicated frame protects. 

When too, abrupt, falls some tremendous blow, 960 

Throughout the system suffers, every sense 
Of soul and body discomposed alike. 
Then fails the arrangement of primordial seeds, 
Each vital action fails ; and, shook severe 
Through every limb, the principles of life 965 

Dissolve each fond connexion, quit their post, 
And through th' external pores fly off at large. 
For what but this can force extreme effect ? 
The dread solution, and the death of all. 

But oft, when less the violence displayed, 970 

The vital motions left may triumph still, 

2 A 2 


And quell the mighty tumult, and recall, ' 

From the rude grasp of fate, each active power 

Marshalled anew, and every sense relume. 

For else, why rather should those powers retreat 975 

Back fropxdestruction with recruited strength, 

Than still proceed, and burst the bars of life ? 

As pain, too, springs when, midst th' interior frame. 
Or limbs extreme, by sudden force convulsed 
Each vital atom shakes through all its course, 980 

But yields to pleasure when the shock subsides, — 
Since primal seeds can ne'er such shock sustain, — 
No pain they know, nor e'er the fruit can pluck 
Of dear delight ; hence nought of sense is theirs. 

But if, that things sensation may possess, 985 

Their seeds primordial must possess the same, — 
Say, from what seeds, then, springs the race of man ? 
From those, forsooth, incited quick to laugh. 
Those down whose cheeks perpetual tears distil, 
And those deep-versed in causes and effects, 99C 

Discussing grave the seeds that rear themselves. 
For grant this system, and whate'er exists 
Must spring from seeds minuter, endless urged, 
And draw, progressive, every power displayed 
Of thought, or laughter, from the parent stock. 995 

This if thou smile at, and contend that things 
With power endowed of laughter, speech, and thought 
Still rise from seeds that no such powers avow, 
Why not concede, then, sentient things alike 
May flow from seeds of total sense devoid ? 1000 

All spring from heaven, ethereal, all that live : 
The sire of all is Ether : he, full oft, 
In dulcet drops descends of genial rain 
And the bland Earth impregnates. Timely, then, 
Rises the glossy blade, the joyous leaf 1005 

Shoots forth, and man and beast, in countless tribes, 
Fed from the various banquet of the fields, 
Live their gay hours, and propagate their kinds. 
Maternal, hence, is Earth most justly named. 
Thus all things rise, thus all again return : 1010 

Earth takes what earth bestowed ; and back to heaven 
Tiemount the ethereal dews from heaven that fell. 


Yet death destroys not the prime seeds of things, 

But scatters only ; atoms hence commix 

With stranger atoms, every form commutes, 1015 

And every tint ; perception springs amain, 

And, instantaneous, wastes again to nought. 

Of such vast moment are the modes diverse 

In vphich primordial seeds their posts arrange. 

Act, and re-act, give motion, and accept : 1020 

For deem not seeds thus floating most minute 

Through the vast whole, now obvious to the view, 

Now quick disperst, can ne'er eternal live. 

Such then the moment, as already urged, 

With which the types, these numbers that compose, 1025 

Change their positions, and retreat, or blend. 

Thus the same letters, or with variance small, 

Heaven, earth, and water, seas, and suns express. 

Fruits, plants, and mortals ; common are the types. 

The terms but change from combinations new. 1030 

Thus change material things : their primal seeds 

In site, connexion, interval of space. 

Position, motion, weight, attractive power, 

In these as varying, varies the result. 

Now bend thy mind to truths profounder still: 1035 
For stranger doctrines must assault thine ear. 
And a new scene of wonders yet unfold. 
Whate'er is new, though obvious and defined. 
Gains not an easy credence ; but when once 
Flies the fresh novelty, th' unsteady soul 1040 

Yields its full faith to facts mysterious most. 

The vault of heaven cerulean, spangled thick 
With stars, and with th' efFulsive lustre cheered 
Of sun and moon refulgent — were at once 
This scene celestial o'er the race of man 1045 

To burst abrupt — how would the nations start ! 
What wonders, then, be traced ! with what vast toil 
Would e'en the sage the prospect preconceive ! 
Yet now, full sated with the scene sublime, 
Man scarce lifts up his listless eyes to heaven. lOoO 

Cease, then, alarmed by aught profound, or strange. 
Right reason to reject ; weigh well the proofs 
Each scheme advances ; if by truth upheld 


Embrace the doctrine ; but, if false, abjure. 

Urged thus, by truth, — beyond the world's wide walls lOoo 

Since space spreads boundless, the redundant mind, 

Free in its flights, pants, ardent, to discern 

What fills those realms where sight can never soar. 

And first, th' entire of things, above, below, 
Search where thou wilt on every side alike 1060 

Spreads unconfined : this, as already taught. 
Right reason proves, and many a clamorous fact. 
Then deem not thou, since thus perpetual space 
Flows infinite, and infinite the seeds 

That, from exhaustless founts, in endless modes 1065 

Fly through the void, by endless motions urged, 
Deem not this visual system of the heavens 
Alone exists, unparalleled by aught. 
And that all matter elsewhere sleeps supine. 
Since too of its own nature the vast mass 1070 

Sprang forth spontaneous, rousing every power 
To every mode of motion, rashly oft. 
Oft vain and fruitless, till, at length, it formed 
Th' unchanging rudiments of things sublime, 
And heaven, and earth, and main, and mortals rose : — 1 075 
Hence doubly flows it, other systems still. 
Like ours, must deck the vast ethereal void, 
Enfolded in its avaricious grasp. 

Ample, moreo'er, the matter thus required. 
The place at hand, the cause eflicient full, 108C 

Whence new creations may for ever spring. 
Since, then, so boundless the great mass of seeds 
That endless ages ne'er could cast th' amount, — 
Since the same power presides, the nature still 
That reared this visual system, and alike 1085 

Those seeds can mould to systems such as ours — 
The fact flows doubtless, mid the void immense, 
That other worlds in other parts must rise, 
Peopled with reasoning, and with brutal tribes. 

Add, too, that nought, through universal space, 1090 
Springs single, the sole progeny produced. 
The sole sustained ; still countless every class. 
Those, chief, percipient : the wild mountain herds. 
The race of man consociate, the mute fish 


With quivering fin, and all th' aerial tribes. 1095 

Hence, too, nor heaven, nor earth, nor sun, nor racon. 

Nor the broad main, nor aught besides, alone 

Can live, but each unlimited in kind. 

Each the same substance, the same seeds of death, 

Bears in its frame, that stamp the ranks diverse 1 100 

More obvious, gendered by connubial love. 

These truths avowed, all Nature shines at once, 
Free in her acts, no tyrant to control, 
Self-potent, and uninfluenced by tiie gods. 
For, O ye powers divine! whose tranquil lives 1105 

Flow free irom care, with ceaseless sunshine blest, — 
Who the vast whole could guide, midst all your ranks ? 
Who grasp the reins that curb th' entire of things? 
Turn the broad heavens, and pour, through countless worlds, 
Th' ethereal fire that feeds their vital throngs ? 1110 

Felt every moment, felt in every place. 
Who form tlie louring clouds ? the lightning dart. 
And roll the clamorous thunder, oft in twain 
Rending the concave ? — or, full deep retired, 
Who point, in secret, the mysterious shaft 1115 

That, while the guilty triumphs, prostrates stern 
The fairest forms of innocence and worth ? 

Long after the wide world had risen, the sun 
Shot his young beams, and earth and sea rejoiced 
In infant being — still primordial seeds, 1 120 

From the vast compass of th' entire, conjoined ; 
Conjoined from every part ; hence earth and main 
Increased ; hence the broad mansions of the heavens 
Spread wider ; and th' ethereal dome was filled 
With new-born air ; for all, harmonious, blend 1125 

Kinds with their kinds, and thence those kinds augment. 
Earth from the seeds of earth, from fiery, fire, 
Air from aerial, from the dewy, dew : 
Till all-prolific Nature rears at length 
To full perfection the vast frame of things, 1130 

And the gorged system can no more absorb 
Than what flies casual from th' external pores. 
Then boasts the whole completion ; Nature, then, 
Restrains all progress, every power matured. 

For all with gradual growth that swells, and thus 1 135 


Climbs, by degrees, the scale of life adult. 

Far less emits than what its frame receives. 

Wide through the system flows the genial food 

Towards every part disperst : yet not so wide 

That much transudes external, and tlie day 1140 

Thus loses larger than the day digests. 

For still, though much evanish, ampler still 

The nutriment that spreads, till the full form 

Gains, by degrees, its point of perfect power. — 

Then back, by gradual march, its strength declines, 1145 

Its fond perfection, and, from day to day, 

Melts all its vigour. — This the ceaseless course 

Of things created. But those chief, with speed, 

Waste into nought that boast a bulk immense ; 

Since wider, here, the surface whence, each hour, 1150 

Flies off the light effluvium, nor with ease 

Winds the fresh food through all the mighty mass. 

By ceaseless strife exhausted, and a store 

Asking far ampler than the store received. 

Thus all must perish, unsupplied within, 1155 

And, from without, by blows tumultuous urged ; 

Blows that, resistless, from whate'er adjoins, 

Ply their full vigour till the victim yields. 

Thus shall the world's wide walls hereafter sink 
In boundless ruins: thus, though yet sustained 1160 

By food appropriate, and preserved entire. 
For not for ever will her powers digest 
The due recruit, nor Nature's hand supply. — 

E'en now her glory fades, and the faint earth, 
That erst upreared such giant forms of life 1165 

In every class profuse, — scarce now protrudes, 
With utmost toil, a scant and puny race. 
For deem not thou some golden chain from heaven 
Each tribe conducted down to realms below ; 
Nor from the boisterous billows of the main 1170 

That mortals sprung : Earth from herself produced 
The various ranks that still herself sustains. 

Then, too, spontaneous, from the soil she reared 
Those luscious fruits, those vines that gladden life ; 
And crowned with pasture, and with glossy corn, 1175 

Those fields where man now toils almost in vain : 



Where faints the steer, the ploughman faints fatigued, 

And the keen share so wastes, mechanic art 

Can scarce supply th' exhaustion : — such the call 

For labour now, so foods forbear to rise. 1 1 80 

Thus musing, the rude husbandman shakes oft 

His weary head ; his thriftless pains bewails, 

Thriftless too sure : and, while his wandering thought 

Weighs, with the present, the fair times elapsed. 

Envies the lot the men of yore enjoyed. 1185 

Then, luckless planter of degenerate vines ! 

His day he curses, then all heaven he tires, 

Muttering that earlier times, though virtuous more, 

Should, thus, have more been favoured, — thus have reared 

An ampler harvest e'en from narrower farms, — 1190 

Heedless that all things by degrees must fail. 

Worn out by age, and doomed to certain death. 

BOOK in. 

O Glory of the Greeks ! who first didst chase 

The mind's dread darkness with celestial day, 

The worth illustrating of human life — 

Thee, glad, I follow — with firm foot resolved 

To tread the path imprinted by thy steps ; 5 

Not urged by competition, but, alone. 

Studious thy toils to copy ; for, in powers, 

How can the swallow with the swan contend ? 

Or the young kid, all tremulous of limb. 

Strive with the strength, the fleetness of the horse; 10 

Thou, sire of science ! with paternal truths 

Thy sons enrichest : from thy peerless page. 

Illustrious chief! as from the flowery field 

Th' industrious bee culls honey, we alite 

Cull many a golden precept — golden each — 15 

And each most worthy everlasting life. 

For as the doctrines of thy godlike mind 
Prove into birth how nature first uprose, 



All terrors vanish ; the blue walls of heaven 

Fly instant — and the boundless void throughout 20 

Teems with created things. Then too we traec 

The powers immortal, and their blest abodes; 

Scenes where the winds rage never — unobscured 

By clouds, or snow white drifting, — and o'erspreuu 

With laughing ether, and perennial day. 25 

There nature fills each want, nor aught up-spi-ings 

To mar th' eternal harmony of soul. — 

Yet nought exists of iiell's infernal reign: 

Nor hides the solid earth the scenes from sight 

Spread through the void beneath. — On these vast themes 30 

As deep I ponder, a sublime delight, 

A sacred horror sways me — Nature thus 

By thy keen skill through all her depths unveiled. 

Since, then, we erst have sung the make minute 
Of primal seeds ; how, in spontaneous course 35 

Re-active urged, their various figures fly, 
And, hence, how all things into life ascend, 
Next let our daring verse the frame unfold 
Of soul, and reasoning mind ; — and chase, ftir chase 
Those fears of future torment that distract 40 

Man's total being ; with the gloom of death 
Tinge all things ; nor e'en suffer once the tide 
Of present joy to flow serene and pure. 

For though, full oft, men boast they far prefer 
Death to disease, or infamy of name, 45 

Assert they know the soul but springs from blood, 
Or, if the humour urge them, is but air, 
And hence, that useless all the lore we bring : — 
Oft flows the boast from love of praise alone. 
For when of home debarred, from every haunt 50 

Of man cut off, with conscious guilt o'erpowered, 
Midst every ill such boasters still survive : 
Still fell new victims, and th' infernal powers 
Implore with black oblations ; through their breast 
Religion thus with ten-fold force propelled. 55 

Through doubtful dangers, hence, through straits severe 
Pursue the race of man ; then sole ascends 
Truth from the lowliest bosom, then alono 
Flies all profession, and the fact unfolds. 


E'en restless avarice, and love of fame, 60 

So oft to deeds unrighteous that seduce. 
And spread the growing guilt from man to man. 
By ceaseless toil urged on, and night and day, 
Striving the crowd t' o'ertop — these pests of life 
Draw half their vigour from the dread of death. 65 

For infamy, contempt, and want severe. 
These chief embitter mortals ; these, they deem. 
Death's foremost train ; and, studious these to shun, 
Far off they fly, still wand'ring from the right. 
Urged on by fear, and kindle civil broils, 70 

And murder heap on murder, doubling thus, 
Ceaseless, their stores insatiate : raptured high 
When breathes a brother his last, languid groan ; 
And with mistrust, through every nerve alaimed, 
Joining the feast some jovial kinsman forms. 75 

From the same soui-ce, the same deep dread of death. 
Springs Envy poisoning all things : mortals, hence, 
Lament to power that this, to glory that, 
Crown'd with the people's plaudits should ascend, 
While all unnoticed, mid the crowd obscure 80 

Themselves still jostle; pining every hour. 
For names, for statues ; and, full oft, so strong 
From dread of death, hate they the light of heaven. 
That, sick at heart, through their own breast they plunge 
The fatal steel : heedless that this alone, 85 

This pungent dread, engenders all their cares, 
Nips the keen sense of shame — turns friends to foea, 
And bursts the bonds that harmonize the heart. 
For, goaded hence, hell ever in liis sight, 
Man oft betrays his country ; and, for gold, 90 

Yields up the reverend form that gave him birth. 
For as the boy, when midnight veils the skies, 
Trembles and starts at all things — so, full oft. 
E'en in the noon, men start at forms as void 
Of real danger as the phantoms false 05 

By darkness conjured, and the schoolboy's dread. 
A terror this the radiant darts of day 
Can ne'er disperse. To truth's pure light alone, 
And wisdom yielding, intellectual suns. 

First, then, the mind, the spirit named at times, I'JO 


That which controls, which measures sentient life, 

Forms of this mortal make a part as clear 

As the keen eye, the finger, or the foot. 

Here cleave we firm, though many a sage contends 

The mental sense no part specific frames, 105 

But springs the vital product of the whole. 

This the Greek schools term harmony — a sense 

Of living power while still th' essential soul 

No point appropriates — as corporeal health 

Flows not from sections, but the form entire. 1 10 

Thus, deem they, springs the mind ; a tenet fraught, 

If right we judge, with error most absurd. 

For oft th' external frame disease sustains. 

While all escapes within : and thus, reversed. 

The mind oft sickens while the body thrives: 115 

As, when the gout the tortured foot inflames, 

The distant head still boasts its wonted ease. 

When, too, sweet sleep o'er all the wearied limbs 

Spreads his soft mantle, and locks every sense, 

Still something stirs within us — something urged, 120 

E'en then, to various motions, and alive 

To joy's glad impulse, or fictitious fears. 

Yet more ; to prove the soul a part exists 
Constituent of the body — to subvert 

This fancied harmony — mark oft how life 125 

Mid the dread loss of many a limb endures ; 
While instant as the vital heat but ebbs. 
The vital breath flies off — pulsation stops, 
And heart and limb all lifeless lie alike. 
Hence may'st thou judge that not in every part 130 

Dwells the same portion of percipient power. 
Nor health from each flows equal ; but that those 
Chief nurture life, and check its flight abrupt, 
Reared from aerial seeds, or fluent heat. 
As these exist, then, heat and vital air, 135 

Health through the members sickens or abounds. 

This proved precise — that soul, that mind exists 
Part of the body — let such sages still 
Hold the term harmony — deduced, perchance, 
From the sweet chords of Helicon ; let such 140 

Still something mean, whate'er that something be. 


No name of theirs expresses : thou, meanwhile, 

Quitting such contests, mark what yet remains. < 

The soul, the mind, then, one same substance forms 
Minutely blended ; but, in vulgar phrase, 145 

That call we mind, or spirit, which pervades. 
As chief, the heart's deep avenues, and rules 
The total frame. Here grief, and terror spring, 
Here pleasure plays ; and here we hence conceive 
Dwells mind, or spirit ; while the remnant soul, 150 

Through every limb diifused, the mind's dread nod 
Obeys, and yields submissive to its will. 
Of its own powers, mind reasons and exults, 
While soul, like flesh, can never rouse alone. 
As oft the head, or eye, some anguish keen loo 

Sustains, while yet the general frame escapes, 
So, in itself, the mind, full oft, endures 
Rapture or pain, while yet the soul at large. 
Spread through the members, nought of change perceives. 
But when the mind some shock severe subdues, 160 

The total soul then sympathizes : then, 
Should deadly horror sway o'er all the frame 
Spreads the cold sweat, the livid paleness spreads, 
Clouds dim the sight, the palsied tongue is mute, 
Tingles the ear, and every limb dissolves. 165 

Oft, too, from mental terror faints the frame : 
Whence may'st thou mark how close the bond that knita 
The soul and spirit ; this exciting that. 
And that, when roused, deep-rousing every nerve. 

Hence prove we, too, that both alike exist 1 70 

Corporeal : — hence, since every member yields 
With quick submission to the joint behest : 
Since bursts from sleep the body, since the face 
Obsequious varies, and the total man 

Feels the full sway profound ; for nought can act 175 

Where touch subsists not, nor can touch subsist 
Void of corporeal base : — can we, then, doubt 
That soul, that spirit must corporeal spring ? 

In all, raoreo'er, of ease or anguish keen 
The body feels, the assenting mind pai'takes. 1 80 

Thus, when some deadly dart through many a nerve, 
Mid many a bone, tremendous, winds its way 


Quick faints the spirit : — a fond wish to die 

Now sways, and now the native love of life. 

Material, hence, the mental frame must live, 185 

Since by material arms so soon assailed. 

Now list attentive, while Ave next unfold 
Its make mysterious, and to sight educe. 

First, then, we firm maintain the mind results 
From seeds of matter, most minute and smooth. 190 

This hence we prove, that flought so swiftly speeds 
As what the mind determines and completes ; 
The mind, whose keen rapidity o'erpowers 
All that the sight marks instantaneous most. 
But what thus rapid moves, from seeds must spring 195 
Most exquisitely subtile, and rotund, 
Roused into action by minutest force. 
Thus moves the fluent stream, urged on with ease, 
Since reared from atoms polished, and exile. 
While the tough honey, of compacter frame, 200 

More tardy flows, and ampler force demands. 
For more tenacious here the total mass, 
From heavier seeds engendei'ed, tenuous less, 
And less globose. Thus zephyr's gentlest breath 
Wide scatters, oft, the seeds the poppy rears, 205 

Heaped in the sun-beam, — while the grosser mass 
Of congresated stones, or missile darts 
Feels no impression. Hence material things 
Move brisk or sluggish, as from atoms reared 
Light and globose, or denser, and more rough. 210 

Since tlien the mind, in every act, we trace 
Most voluble, from seeds of subtlest size. 
Rotund and light, its mystic make must spring : 
A fact, O friend to truth ! thou oft shalt find 
Of utmost moment in what yet remains. 215 

Hence learn we, too, of what attenuate frame 
The mind consists ; and to what trivial space 
Must shrink its texture if compacted close — 
That, when in death the wearied body sleeps, 
And soul and spirit wander from their post, 220 

E'en then the sight no diminution marks 
In weight or figure ; death usurping sole 
The w;irm-breathed vapour, and the vital sense. 


From seeds minutest, hence, the soul entire 
Must flow, — through all the frame profusely poured ; 225 
fVnd, e'en when fled, still leaving every limb 
Its wonted weight, its figure most precise. 
80, from the juice of Bacchus, when flies off 
Its flower ethereal, from the light perfume 
When mounts the essential spirit, or from man 230 

Th' excreted lymph exhales — the curious eye 
Nought marks diminished, — the same weight survives, 
Th' same fixt bulk, since from minutest seeds 
Springs the light scent, the ethereal spirit springs. 

Hence doubly flows it why the mind's pure frame 23o 
Must, too, be reared from seeds of subtlest size, — 
Hence, as its flight to visual change creates. 
But bulk alike, and substance still endure. 

Yet not unmixt its nature : the light gas 
Breathed from the dying, in its texture blends 240 

Heat, air, and vapour, ever each with each 
Compacted ; vapour, in its ample pores, 
Absorbing heat, and heat ethereal air. 

Triple the substance, hence, the soul that builds ; 
Yet e'en the whole perception ne'er can form : 245 

For nought in each subsists of power t' excite 
Those sensile motions whence perception flows. 
Hence some fourth substance, doubtless, must Ave deem, 
Conjoint existing ; which, though void of name. 
Springs from minutest atoms, lightest most 2oC 

And most attenuate ; deep-endowed with power 
Of fleercst speed, and hence, that first begets 
Those sensile movements that the frame pervade. 
This first begets, as formed from subtlest seeds, 
Next heat the incipient action, vapour next 255 

Partakes, and air posterior, till the soul 
Rouses throughout : then flows the blood, then feels 
Each vital organ, — till, through every bone, 
E'en to its central marrow, winds, in turn, 
The sinuous rapture, or the sense of pain. 260 

Yet pain, thus deep within, can never pierce 
With keen corrosion, but the total man 
Shalfss from his basis— life no more subsists. 
And the light soul through every pore flies off. 


Hence less profound descends, in general ills, 265 

Til' excited action, and man still survives. 

And here, in plirase appropriate, would we prove 
In what firm bonds, what various modes, the make 
Of each with each commixes, but the dearth 
Of terms select restrains us ; yet attend 270 

While thus our utmost efforts we essay. 

Each primal substance, tlien, with each coheres 
In every act so firm that nought conceived 
Can sever ; nought can central space admit ; 
But as the powers they live of one joint frame. 275 

As the fresh victim blends in every limb 
Heat, taste, and odour, while the total builds 
But one compacted mass, so here, alike. 
But one same nature flows from heat and air, 
And mystic vapour, and the power unnamed 280 

That rears the incipient stimulus, and first 
Darts sentient motion through the quivering frame. 
Far from all vision this profoundly lurks, 
Through the whole system's utmost depth diffused, 
And lives as soul of e'en the soul itself. 285 

As with each limb the general spirit blends, 
Though ne'er discerned, so subtle and so few 
Its primal seeds — so, througli the spirit, spreads 
This form ineffable, this mystic power, 

Soul of the soul, and lord of mortal man, 290 

Thus, too, commixt must vapour, heat, and air, 
Live through each limb united ; and, though oft 
Each rise o'er each triumphant, still uprear 
One frame harmonious, lest the power of air, 
Of heat, or vapour, each from each disjoined, 295 

Mar all sensation, and fly off dissolved. 

Heat springs superior in the mind enraged, 
When burns the total system, and the eye 
Darts forth its lurid lightnings : vapour chill 
The ascendance gains wlien fear the frame pervades, .300 
And ruthless IIouuoR, shivering every limb ; 
While the pure air, of tranquillizing power, 
Smooths all the visage, and the soul serenes. 
Heat sways, as urged already, in the form 
With acrid breast, that rouses soon to ire ; 305 


Chief in the rampant lion, whose proud heart 

Bursts with impetuous roaring, nor can bound 

Th' infuriate tide that ceaseless raves within. 

For ampler vapour mark the timid deer : 

Quick spreads its chilling dew through every limb 310 

In many a tremor quivering ; wliile the ox 

Proves, through his placid life, a temper formed 

From air supreme. Him ne'er the torch of ire 

Maddens abrupt in clouds and smoke involved, 

Nor shuddering fear transfixes ; but, remote, 315 

'Twixt botli he stands, and lifts his honest front. 

The trembling deer, the lion gaunt and grim. 

Thus varies man : though education trim 
Add its bland polish, frequent still we trace 
The first deep print of nature on the soul, 320 

Nor aught can all — erase it : ever, whence, 
This yields to sudden rage, to terror that, 
While oft a third beyond all right betrays 
A heart of mercy. Thus, in various modes, 
The moral temper, and symphonious life 325 

Must differ ; tluis from many a cause occult 
The sage can ne'er resolve, nor human speech 
Find phrase t' explain ; so boundless, so complex, 
The primal sources whence the variance flows ! 
Yet this the muse may dictate that so few 330 

The native traces wisdom ne'er can rase, 
Man still may emulate the gods in bliss. 

Thus through each limb th' impressive spirit spread.s, 
Lord of the body, the prime fount of health. 
Thus with each limb in league so close combines 335 

Nought void of death can sever them in twain. 
As the clear frankincense its fond perfume 
Can ne'er desert till both together die. 
So, from the flesh, the spirit and the soul 
Part not till each one common i'ate dissolve. 340 

So live they mutual, so, from earliest birth. 
In intertwined existence, that apart. 
Nor this nor that perception can possess. 
The joint result of each, by effort joint 
First kindled, and through all the frame diffused. 345 

This frame, moreo'er. alone can never spring, 

2 B 


Can never thrive, the dread attack of death 

Can never conquer. For. with aim sublime, 

Though the hght vapour from the tepid lymph 

Fly olF profuse, while yet the lymph itself 250 

Exists uninjured — the deserted limbs 

Not harmless, thus, can bear the soul's escape, 

Doomed to one ruin, and one common grave. 

So, ffom their first crude birth, the vital acts 

Of soul and body each solicits each 355 

With fond contagion, from the earliest hour 

The new-formed fetus quickens in the womb. 

No power can sever them devoid of death. — 

Since life but flows, then, from the two combined. 

Combined alone their natures must subsist. 360 

Hence those who hold the body never feels, 
But sole the spirit tlu'ough the body poured. 
Each vital fact oppose : for how, resolve. 
Could man e'er deem the body crowned with sense 
But from such facts instructed and confirmed ? 365 

True — body feels not when the spirit flies. 
For sense from each springs mutual, and, in death, 
Not sense alone is lost, but much besides. 

To deem the eyes, then, of themselves survey 
Nought in existence, while th' interior mind 370 

Looks at all nature through them as alone 
Through loop-holes, is to trifle — sight itself 
The creed absurd opposing every hour. 
For oft the eye-ball dares not meet the day. 
The flood of light o'erpowering : but were eyes 375 

The mind's mere loop-holes, toil were never theirs. 
Then too, each portal the reflected beam 
Must more obstruct than uslier ; — and, removed, 
Th' exulting mind must drink a double day. 

Nor be the sacred doctrine here advanced 380 

Urged by De.mocritus, that soul extends 
Atom for atom, through the total frame. 
With grosser body : tor as less of size 
The soul's primordial seeds than those that rear 
Th' organic structure, so in number too 385 

Yield they, — less freely through the limits diffused. 
Hence may'st thou rather deem the soul's pure seeda 


Placed at such intervals as just suffice 

To rouse alone when needful, through the frame, 

Percipient motions. For full oft the dust 390 

Blown by the breeze, or fine fugacious chalk, 

Lights on the limbs unheeded : so, at eve. 

The dews we feel not, nor the silky threads 

By dexterous spider spun from spray to spray 

That twine around us, — nor the tattered web 395 

From some old roof that on the hair descends, 

Nor the soft down of feathers, nor the goss 

Sportive and light, that scarcely falls at last. 

Nor live we conscious, frequent, of the tread 

Of animalcules, or the secret path, 400 

O'er all our frame, the busy gnat pursues. 

For many a primal seed, that rears at large 

Each member, must be stimulated first, 

Ere the keen atoms of the soul, hence roused. 

Engender sense, through every severing space 405 

Blending, rebounding, and reblending still. 

But 'tis the mind guards chief the gates of life, 
And than the soul with ampler vigour sways. 
For, without mind or spirit, soul itself 
In no one portion through the man can live 410 

E'en for a moment : as companion fond 
With speed it follows, dissipated wide. 
And leaves the limbs beneath the ice of death : 
While he whose mind, whose spirit safe subsists. 
Still holds existence, though th' exterior form 415 

Throughout be mangled ; e'en though much of soul. 
Though every limb be lost, he still survives 
Deep in the remnant trunk ; the vital air 
Still breathes, and lingers out his joyless hours. 
Thus, though the visual orb be wounded, still, 420 

If safe the central pupil, sight remains : 
Where'er descends the blow, should this alone 
Elude its vengeance, ruin ne'er ensues. 
But, if of this the least existent point 

Once suffer, though the total else escape, 425 

Light fails immediate, and dread darkness reigns. 
Such the connexion 'twixt the soul and mind. 

Now mark profound : to teach thee how this soul, 

2 B 2 


BOOK m. 

This subtle spirit, with th' external frame 
Begot, alike must perish, — next the muse 430 

Shall pour forth numbers thine illustrious birth 
Well worthy, and wit!i sweetest labour culled. 
This chief observe, that either phrase assumes 
Here a like import ; and that when we urge 
The soul is mortal, this the mind includes : 435 

Such their joint bond, their close connexion such. 
First, having proved, then, this attenuate power 
From subtlest atoms reared, minuter far 
Than those of water, smoke, or buoyant mist, 
Since much in speed it conquers, and, by force 440 

Far less, is roused to action — for full oft 
E'en the faint phantasms of such forms alone 
The soul excites, as when, in deep repose, 
The fragrant altar smokes, and vapours rich 
Rise to the view — a sense, no doubt, induced 445 

From the light phantasms of substantial forms 
Floating around us — this already proved, 
Judge next, since lymph when bursts th' enclosing vase, 
Flows at each fracture, since fugacious smoke, 
Since vapours vanish into viewless air, 450 

Judge how the soul must dissipate amain, 
How sooner perisli, and its primal seeds 
Speedier dissolve, when once the flesh they quit. 
For since this flesh, the vase the soul that bounds. 
Bounds it no more when bruised by foreign force, 455 

Or of its life-blood robbed, — how canst thou deem 
Th' unsolid ether, or that aught more rare 
Than flesh itself, the soul can e'er confine ? 

The mind, moreo'er, as every hour confirms, 
Springs with the body, with the body grows, 460 

And yields alike to years. The totterin^j babe, 
"Weakly of limb, betrays a mind as weak : 
But, as his strength matures, his vigorous soul 
Ripens in reason, till in equal hour, 

As age o'ercomes, and every organ fiiils, 465 

Fail too his mental powers: then raves the tongue. 
The judgment raves, the total man declines, 
And, in a moment, all alike expires. 
Hence the whole nature of this reasoning frame 


Must all dissolve, as smoke in ambieut air, 470 

Hence since, as urged above, all springs alike, 
All ripens gradual, and together droops. 

As, too, the body feels full oft the force 
Of bitter pains, and many a huge disease — 
So strives the mind with grief, and cruel care, 475 

Hence proved partaker of one common fate. 

In many an ill, moreo'er, the flesh sustains, 
The judgment suffers: the distracted wretch 
Now raving wild, and sinking, now profound 
In stupid slumber ; his fixt eyeballs stare, 480 

His head hangs heavy, sound no more is heard, 
Nor the fond visage noticed e'en of those, 
Who yet, yet calling back to life, bedew 
With many a tear his mouth and cheeks suffused. 
Hence must the mind too, with the body cease, 485 

Since by diseases thus alike transfixt : 
For grief, for sickness, equal, the dread work 
Of death accomplish, as each hour confirms. 

Why, too, wlien once the pungent power of wine 
Flies through the system, and tlie blood inflames, 490 

Why torpid grows each organ ? reels each limb ? 
Falters the tongue ? rebels the maddening mind ? 
Why swim the eyes ? and hiccough, noise and strife. 
And each consociate ill their force combine ? 
Why but that deep the frantic bowl disturbs, 495 

Ev'n in the body, the secluded mind ? 
But what can once be thus disturbed — what once 
Impeded — should the hostile power augment. 
Must perish, doubtless, void of future days. 

Oft, too, some wretch, before our startled sight, 500 

Struck, as with lightning, by some keen disease. 
Drops sudden : — by the dread attack o'erpowered, 
He foams, he groans, he trembles, and he faints ; 
Now rigid, now convulsed, his labouring lungs 
Heave quick, and quivers each exhausted limb. 505 

Spread through the frame, so deep the dire disease 
Perturbs his spirit ; as the briny main 
Foams through each wave beneath the tempest's ire. 
He groans, since every member smarts with pain, 
And from his inmost breast, with wontless toil, 510 


Confused, and harsh, articulation springs. 

He raves, since soul and spirit are alike 

Disturbed throughout, and severed each fn)m each, 

As urged above, distracted by the bane. 

But when, at length, the morbid cause declines, 515 

And the fermenting humours from the heart 

Flow back — with staggering foot the man first treads, 

Led gradual on to intellect and strength. 

Since, then, the soul such various ills endures, 
E'en in this solid frame, — such various modes 520 

Feels of severe distraction — canst thou deem, 
In the wide air unsheltered and forlorn, 
Mid boisterous winds, it ever could exist ? 

And as the mind, like body, when diseased 
Heals oft, and owns the genial power of drugs, 525 

Hence springs a proof that mind is mortal too. 
For he the secret soul, or aught besides, 
Who fain would change, must lessen or augment 
Its primal atoms, or combine anew : 

But things immortal ne'er can be transposed, 530 

Ne'er take addition, or encounter loss. 
For what once changes, by the change alone 
Subverts immediate its anterior life. 

Sickening, or healed, then, by balsamic herbs. 
The seeds of death alike the soul betrays. 535 

So triumph facts o'er all the sophist's art 
Precluding answer, doubly silenced here. 

Of man, moreo'er, by slow degrees, we mark. 
Limb after limb consume : first the pale toes, 
The nails grow livid ; in succession next 540 

The feet, and legs ; till gradual, o'er the frame, 
Creeps the chill track of death, — Since, then, the soul 
Thus suffers, nor one moment can resist 
Sound, and entire, its make must mortal prove. 
But should'st thou deem, when thus assailed, it shrinks 545 
Back through each member, to one point condensed — 
Then must that point, towards which the soul retreats, 
Throng with increased sensation : but as this 
Time ne'er evinces, it must still disperse 
Like tattered shreds by every wind destroyed, Z50 

Yet grant the converse, and the soul allow 


In those concentrates, gradual who decline ; — 

Say what imports it whether wide it waste 

From limb to limb, or perish from one point? 

Still more and more sensation fails, and life 555 

Less and still less its dwindled power sustains. 

Since, too, the mind forms part of man, and dwells 
In one fixt spot, as dwells the eye or ear, 
Or aught besides of sense that governs life ; 
And since, moreo'er, the sight, the hand, the nose, 560 
Once severed from us, feel not, nor exist, 
Dissolving instant — so the mind alike 
Lives not alone without th' exterior frame, 
Which like a vessel holds it, or aught else, 
If aught there be, of bond compacter still. 565 

So to the body cleaves th' adhesive mind. 

The vital power, moreo'er, of each subsists 
Alone conjoint, for mutual is their life. 
Nor without body can the soul fulfil 

Its destined functions, nor the body live 570 

Of soul devoid, participant of sense. 
As the bare eye, when rooted from its orb, 
Sees nought around it, spirit thus and soul 
Nought can accomplish singly ; — hence diffused 
Through every vessel, organ, bone, and nerve, 575 

Of all that breathes. Nor part their primal seeds 
With long interstice, fatal to the power 
Of resilition ; rather so confined. 
As sensile motions fits them best t' excite : 
Such as, at death, when mixt with vacant air, 580 

'Twere vain to expect, of all restraint devoid. 
For air itself must body first become 
Compact and vital, ere the secret soul 
Its pores can tenant, or those motions urge, 
Urged, during life, through all the sentient frame. 585 

Hence doubly flows it why the soul and mind, 
One in themselves, of body when disrobed, 
And scattered boundless, instant should dissolve. 

Since, too, the body the departed soul 
Endures not, but with putrid smell decays, 590 

Canst thou, then, doubt the soul, when thus effused, 
Like smoke flies total, every seed disperst ? 


And tliat th' external frame thus sinks defiled 

In putrid death, since from their wonted j>osts 

Urged off, through every passage, every pore, 595 

Press the percipient seeds, from every limb. 

From every membrane o'er the system spread ? 

And seest thou not, from many a fact hence proved, 

Tliat through the total body lives the soul, 

And e'en in body severs, seed from seed, 600 

Ere thence expelled, and scattered into air ? 

E'en during life tlie fractured soul seems oft 
From force abrupt half-hurried from her home ; 
Each vital function failing, and the face, 
As though in death, all pallid, changed, and wan. 605 

Such the deep swoon evinces, when within 
Sinks the faint spirit, and each prostrate pov/er 
Pants for its final doom. Such then the force 
That mind and body oft alike unnerves 
That, but the least augmented, death ensues. 610 

Can, then, tlie soul, thus impotent of frame, 
When once disrobed, abandoned, and exposed. 
Through tlie wide air, to every boisterous breeze, 
Can it then triumpli, dost thou firmly deem. 
Not o'er all time, but e'en one moment live? 615 

Nor do the dying e'er the soul perceive 
Rush out entire, when exiled fi'om the heart. 
The bronchial tube first filling, then the throat, 
And mouth successive ; but at once it fails 
In its own region, as each sense alike 620 

Fails in its destined theatre of power. 
Were, too, its date immortal, man no more, 
At his last hour, would mourn the severing blow: 
Charmed to throw oiF his vesture, like the snake, 
Or, like the stag his antlers, and be free. 625 

Why, too, are wisdom and the mind restrained 
To one sole organ, while the feet, the hands, 
These never gender ? why but that each spot 
Exists for some fixt function — nor can e'er 
Pervert its destined view? while, through the whole, 630 
Nice order reigns by nought preposterous marred. 
So fiows the tide of things, nor water fire, 
Through time, creates, nor fire the sparry frost. 


Were, too, the soul immortal, and possest 
Of ancient powers when severed from the flesh, 635 

Then with new organs must it, or we err, 
Be instant re-endowed ; for thus alone 
Til' infernal shades can tread the shores of hell. 
Thus painters feign them, and the bards renowned 
Of ancient times — thoughtless that eyes, and nose, 640 

And hands, and mouth, to the divided soul 
Can ne'er pertain, nor e'en the sense of sound. 

And since the total system soul pervades, 
And vital action — when some blow severe 
Midway divides it, part from part, abrupt, 645 

Then must the soul alike be cleft in twain, 
Driven with the mangled body. But what thus 
Admits partition, and to foreign force 
Yields e'en but once, immortal ne'er can be. 

Oft, arm'd with scythes, the warlike car, we read. 650 
Hot with repeated slaughters, so abrupt 
Severs a limb, that o'er the field it lies 
With life long quivering, while the hero still 
Fights on, of pain unconscious : his high soul 
Absorbed so total, he nor heeds the loss 655 

Of his broad shield, or shield-supporting hand, 
Whirled in the strife of coursers, and of cars. 
From this the sword-arm drops, while still the rock 
He climbs impetuous ; that, perchance, to earth 
Felled, on one leg yet vainly strives to rise ; 660 

While, at his side, his amputated foot 
Its trembUng toes still moves. Thus, too, the head, 
Whene'er dissevered from the vital trunk. 
Still keeps its look of life, with open eye 
Still stares, till all the gradual soul expire. 665 

So should thy blade some serpent's length of tail 
Divide, quick-brandishing its furious tongue. 
The severed parts writhe, agonized, and broad 
Scatter the purple fluid ; while himself 
Looks round revengeful, and, from pain severe, 670 

Gnashes the segments of his mangled frame. 

Shall we then say that each divided part 
A perfect soul contains ? then with such souls 
The total form, ere injured, must have thronged. 


Hence severs, then, the soul, though close combined, 675 
Anterior, with the body ; and hence, too, 
Both must alike be mortal, since alike 
To parts divisible with equal ease. 

Grant, too, the soul immortal, and infused, 
At earliest birth, within us — whence, resolve, 680 

This full oblivion of all past events. 
All former life ? — for if the soul so change, 
That nought remains of memory in its make, 
A change so total differs scarce from death. 
Thus, what before existed, must have ceased, 685 

And on its ruins sprung what now exists. 

If the light soul, moreo'er, then only join 
The full-formed body, when that body first 
Springs into birth, and treads the porch of life, 
Ne'er can it then, as though diffused at large, 690 

E'en with the vital blood, through all the frame. 
Grow with each growing member : but confined, 
As in a den, in solitude must dwell, 
From the first hour exciting equal sense. 
Hence doubly flows it, souls can ne'er exist 695 

Of birth devoid, nor free fi-om final fate. 
Nor could they, as each daily fact confirms. 
If from without infused, the total frame 
Fit with such nice precision : for so close 
Blend they with every organ, bone, and nerve, 700 

That e'en th' enamelled tooth sensation shares ; 
As oft its ache evinces, or the approach 
Of ice abrupt ; or when, beneath its gripe, 
Grate some harsh pebble mid the subject food. 
Nor thus connected could they e'er retreat 705 

Safe, and uninjured through the sinuous paths 
Of organs, membranes, vessels, bones, and nerves. 

But, from without, th' insinuating soul. 
If still thou deem through all this frame diffused. 
Then, since diffused, much surer must it fail; 710 

For what thus flows diffusive, must dissolve. 
And perish, doubtless, forced through every pore. 
As vanish foods, through every mazy gland. 
Through every limb when urged, to different forms 
Converting gradual, so the mind, the soul 715 


Howe'er entire, when first the flesh it meets 

Dissolves by junction ; for through every sluice, 

Through every organ intricate and fine, 

Must percolate its atoms, severed hence, 

And decomposed, — and hence the base alone 720 

Of that which after sways th' external frame. 

Thus must the soul a natal day possess, 
And final grave, an origin and end. 

Fly, too, at death, the soul's pure seeds entire, 
Or with the body are there still that rest ? 725 

If aught i-emain, then idly must thou deem 
The soul immortal, since diminished thus. 
And shorn of substance ; but if all escape. 
If not an atom loiter — whence, I ask, 

Hears the putrescent carcass, in its womb, 730 

The race of worms ? or sport o'er every limb 
The boneless, bloodless crowds of things unnamed ? 

If from without thou deem their souls they draw, 
To each a soul entire, unheeding here 
What throngs must flock where dwelt but one before, 735 
Pause yet one moment ere thou thus resolve : 
Such souls must, then, the vermin seeds themselves 
Have wise-selected, and their fabrics reared, 
Or into bodies entered ready formed. 

But nor can reason, if themselves have raised 740 

The wretched buildings, for the toil account. 
Nor tell why thus for liunger, and disease, 
And shivering cold they thirst, or aught besides 
Of ill the body to the soul supplies. 

Yet grant them anxious for such vile abodes, 745 

Still must the structure far exceed their powers. 
Hence reared not by themselves. Nor from without 
Could they insinuate into bodies formed ; 
Since nor adapted to their sinuous pores. 
Nor framed for intercourse, and mutual act. 750 

Whence springs the fury that pervades throughout 
The ruthless breed of lions ? whence the craft 
The fox evinces, or the stag's wild fear, 
From sire to son through every race propelled ? 
Whence these and equal passions traced at large, 755 

From life's first dawn, generic, through each class ? 


Whence but that some fixt power of mind descends. 

E'en with the Hneal seed, through all begot, 

Evolving gradual with the gradual growth ? 

For were the soul immortal, changing oft 760 

To different bodies, diiferent tempers, then, 

Must mark each order ; the HyrCanian dog 

Oft, then, must dread the high-horned stag's approach ; 

Hawks fly from doves, e'en man himself turn brute, 

And the brute tribes, preposterous, rule the world. 765 

Nor heed the sophistry which here contends 
That souls oft change the body's change to meet : 
For that which changes must dissolve, and die, 
Severed its parts, its order all destroyed. 
Hence souls must, too, dissolve through every limb, 770 
And with the body share one common fate. 

But should'st thou urge that human souls their flight 
To human forms restrain — then, since once wise, 
To folly why relapse ? why spring not boys 
Replete with wisdom ? nor displays the colt 775 

The skilful paces of the steed mature ? 
Why but that some fixt power of mind descends 
E'en with the lineal seed through all begot. 
Evolving gradual with the gradual growth ? 
Nor think the soul, too, weakens in a weak 780 

And puny system, since most surely then 
Doomed to destruction ; by the change sustained 
Shorn of its vigour, and interior sense. 

Why, if endeared not by one common birth, 
Thus should it pant in equal hour to reach 785 

Perfection with the body ? or, reversed. 
Why long for freedom when the frame decays ? 
Fears, then, the soul confinement after death 
Mid the foul members ? or the dangerous fall 
Of its own tottering mansion ? But, reflect, 790 

What lives immortal, danger ne'er can know. 

What, too, so idle, as that souls should throng 
Round each vile intercourse, or beast that bears : 
Immortal souls ! contesting who shall first 
Enter the feeble fetus ; ii', perchance, 795 

This not decides them, and all strife precludes, 
That who first gains it, claims a prior right. 


Trees not in ether, not in ocean clouds, 

Nor in the fields can fishes e'er exist ; 

Nor blood in planks, nor vital juice in stones : 800 

But all springs definite in scenes defined. 

So in the bosom lives, and there alone, 

Mixt with its blood, and nerves, the secret mind : 

There only lives, — for could it roam at all, 

Then rather should we through the body's self, 805 

The heel, or shoulder, or where else it chose, 

Oft trace it wandering, than forloi'n abroad. 

Since e'en in body, then, the soul and mind 

Are fixt thus definite — we amply prove 

That out of body tliese can ne'er exist : 810 

That when the flesh its certain doom sustains, 

The soul must, too, through every limb dissolve. 

To deem, moreo'er, that mortal can combine 
With aught immortal, — can together live 
Concordant, and in mutual duties blend, -ilS 

Is full delirium. Can there be conceived 
Aught more unmeet, incongruous, or absurd, 
Than with a mortal that a frame should mix 
Immortal, doom'd to all its weight of woe ? 

What lives immortal, too, must so exist, 820 

Or from its own solidity, empowered 
Each blow to conquer, undivided still, 
As primal atoms, long anterior sung ; 
Or since, like vacuum, of all friction void. 
Free from all touch, by impulse unimpaired ; 825 

Or from the want of circling space, in which 
The severing atoms may dissolve and fall ; 
Such want the boundless whole of nature proves, 
And hence eternal — for no place beyond 
Spreads, where its seeds could waste ; nor, from without. 
Can foreign force e'er enter to destroy. 831 

But nor, as urged above, exists the mind 
All solid, since in all things void combines, 
Nor yet all vacuum ; nor, from the pi'ofound. 
Are wanting powers adverse that, into act 835 

Once roused tempestuous, the whole mind derange. 
Or sever total ; — nor deficient space 
Spread widely round, through which, in countless modes. 


The mental frame may crumble, and dissolve ; 

Hence not precluded from the gates of death, 840 

But sliould'st thou still the soul immortal deem, 
Since guarded deep from many a mortal wound, 
Safe from full many an insult that assails 
The health exterior, and since many a blow, 
Aimed at its powers, discomfited recoils 845 

Ere scarce ourselves the dread approach perceive. 
Still far thou wanderest ; Jbr the common woes 
Excluding that from body draw their birth, 
Yet pines she anxious for to-morrow's fate. 
Yet shakes with dread, with carking care consumes, 850 
Or smarts from conscience of committed crimes. 
Add, too, that madness is her own — that oft 
All memory fails, and o'er each torpid power. 
Creeps the dull pool of lethargy profound. 

Hence, death is nought, and justly claims our scornj 855 
Since with the body thus the soul decays. 
And as we now, through long anterior time, 
Look back indifferent on the Punic hosts 
That threatened Rome, when, with the din of war, 
All shook tremendous heaven's high cope beneath, 860 
And doubtful hung the scale which power should rule 
Earth, main, and mortals, with unrivalled sway ; 
So when we cease, and soul and body once 
Meet their joint doom whose union formed our lives, 
No ill sliall then molest us, — nought alarm 865 

Our scattered senses, and dissevered frame. 
Though earth with main, or main commix with skies. 

E'en could the soul, the spirit still survive 
The wreck corporeal, and perception boast, 
To us what boots it, who exist alone 870 

The joint result of soul and body mixt ? 
To us what boots it, should some future time 
Collect our atoms, the dismantled frame 
Restore entire, and e'en witli life relume, 
When once the memory of ourselves is fled ? 875 

We heed not now what erst, in time elapsed. 
We have been, nor with anxious heart explore 
What from our dust hereafter may arise : 
For if thou weigh th' eternal tract of time 


Evolved already, and the countless modes 880 

In which all matter moves, thou canst not doubt 

That oft its atoms have the form assumed 

We bear ourselves this moment — though the mind 

Recalls not now those scenes of being past ; 

For many a pause the discontinuous chain 885 

Of life has severed, and full many a mode 

Of motion sprung to every sense adverse. 

He to whom pain hereafter is decreed 

Must then exist whene'er that pain arrives. 

But as the man, whose atoms erst have lived, 890 

Lives now unconscious of ills then sustained. 

By death since decomposed, and every power 

Of sense and memory scattered — hence Ave prove 

Death holds no sting t' alarm us ; that the man 

To be who ceases, ceases from all woe ; 895 

Nor aught imports it that he e'er was born. 

When death immortal claims his mortal life. 

Should'st thou, then, mark some fool indignant burn 
At this alone, that, when existence fails, 
His corse may moulder, or in flames consume, 900 

Or sate, perchance, the jaws of savage beasts — 
Believe him not : — some secret dread still lurks 
Of future pain, though e'en his lips deny 
That sense or thought can after death exist. 
Thus, if I err not, he conceals his creed, 905 

Believes not life all-ceases, but that still 
Some future self his present will survive. 
• For he who, living, shudders at the thought 
That birds or beasts his frame may soon devour, 
That frame divides not, but his self confounds 910 

With his own future corse, whose dread decay 
This self, he deems, must witness and partake. 
Hence heaves his heart indignant at the doom 
Of mortal man : heedless that, after death. 
No other self shall then himself bemoan, 915 

Nor feel the tooth that tears his mangled limbs. 
If, too, the tiger's tusk, tlie vulture's beak, 
Be deemed an ill — what lighter ill results 
From the red fury of the funeral pyre ? 
The fulsome tide of honey, o'er the frame 920 


Poured, cold and stiffening in the marble tomb ? 

Or the sunk grave, by earth's vast pressure crushed ? 

" But thy dear home shall never greet thee more ! 
No more the best of wives ! — thy babes beloved, 
Whose haste half-met thee, emulous to snatch 925 

The dulcet kiss tliat roused thy secret soul, 
Again shall never hasten ! — nor thine arm, 
With deed heroic, guard thy country's weal ! — 
O mournful, mournful fate ! " thy friends exclaim, 
" One envious hour of these invalued joys 930 

Kobs thee for ever ! " — But they add not here, 
" It robs thee, too, of all desire of joy :" 
A truth, once uttered, that the mind would free 
From every dread, and trouble. " Thou art safe ! 
The sleep of death protects thee ! and secures 935 

From all th' unnumbered woes of mortal life ! 
While we, alas ! the sacred urn around 
That holds thine ashes, shall insatiate weep. 
Nor time destroy th' eternal grief we feel !" 
What then has death, if death be mere repose, 940 

And quiet only in a peaceful grave, 
What has it thus to mar this life of ma" ? 

Yet mar it does. E'en o'er the festi /e board, 
The glass while grasping, and with garlands crowned. 
The thoughtless maniacs oft indignant roar, 945 

"How short the joys of wine ! — e'en while we drink 
Life ceases, and to-morrow ne'er returns !" 
As if, in death, the worst such wretches feared 
Were thirst unquenched, parching every nerve. 
Or deemed their passions would pursue them still. 950 
Not anxious, thus, mankind the world resign 
At evening hour when soul and body rest ; 
Nor would they though that rest were ne'er to end : 
Nor thus the day's desire pursues tlieir dreams ; 
Though then the seeds of sense not wander far 955 

From sensile movements, scarcely, oft, allayed, 
And quick resumed when starts the soul at morn. 
Of much less moment, then, should death be held 
Than sleep, if aught can less than that which ne'er 
Moment excites whatever ; for the crowd 960 

Of sensile seeds are wider here disperst ; 


Nor wakes he e'er to action, and the day, 
Whose frame once feels the chilling pause of life. 

Were then the Nature of Created Things 
To rise abrupt, and thus repining man 965 

Address — " O mortal ! whence these useless fears ? 
This weak, superfluous sorrow ? why th' approach 
Dread'st thou of death ? For if the time elapsed 
Have smiled propitious, and not all its gifts. 
As though adventured in a leaky vase, 970 

Been idly wasted, profitless, and vain — 
Why quitt'st thou not, thou fool ! the feast of life 
Filled, — and with mind all panting for repose ? 
But if thyself have squandered every boon. 
And of the past grown weary — why demand 975 

More days to kill, more blessings to pervert, 
Nor rather headlong hasten to thine end ? 
For nothing further can my powers devise 
To please thee ; — things for ever things succeed 
Unchanged, — and would do, though revolving years 980 
Should spare thy vigour, and thy brittle frame 
Live o'er all time : e'en amplier would'st thou then 
Mark how unvaried all creation moves." — 
Were Nature thus t' address us, could we fail 
To feel the justice of her keen rebuke ? 985 

So true the picture, the advice so sage ! 

But to the wretch who moans th' approach of death 
With grief unmeasured, louder might she raise 
Her voice severe—" Vile coward ! dry thine eyes — 
Hence with thy snivelling sorrows, and depart !" 990 

Sliould he, moreo'er, have past man's mid-day hour — 
" What ! thou lament ? already who hast reaped 
An ample harvest ? by desiring thus 
The past once more, the present thou abhorr'st, 
And life flies on imperfect, unenjoyed, 995 

And death untimely meets thee, ere thy soul. 
Cloyed with the banquet, is prepared to rise. 
Leave, then, to others bliss thy years should shun ; 
Come, cheerful leave it, since still leave thou must."' 
Justly I deem might Nature thus reprove: ]WK> 

For, through creation, old to young resigns, 
And this from that matures ; nor aught descends 

2 c 


To the dread gulfs, the fancied shades of hell. 

The mass material must survive entire 

To feed succeeding ages, which, in turn, 1005 

Like thee shall flourish, and like thee shall die ; 

Nor more the present ruins than the past. 

Thus things from things ascend ; and life exists 

To none a freehold, but a use to all. 

Reflect, moreo'er, how less than nought to us 1010 

Weighs the long portion of eternal time 
Fled ere our birth : so, too, the future weighs 
When death dissolves us. What of horror, then. 
Dwells there in death? what gloomy, what austere? 
Can there be elsewhere slumber half so sound ? 1015 

The tales of hell exist not in the grave. 
But here, and curse us living. Tantalus, 
With broad, rough rock impending o'er his head, 
And crazed with terror, there is never seen : 
But terror dwells with mortals — fate thej fear, 1020 

And fortune, and a host of fancied gods. 

Nor TiTYUS there exists, the prey of birds. 
Nor, though he did, could these the victim's breast 
Consume for ever ; e'en though his wide bulk, 
Not thrice three acre^ merely might extend, 1025 

But cover the vast globe ; nor could he bear 
Eternal pain, nor yield perpetual food. 
But he is Tittus, and by vultures torn, 
Whose anxious breast the rage of love devours ; 
Or aught of passion equal in its force. 1030 

Here, too, is Sisyphus — the man who pants 
For public honours, and the giddy crov.'d 
Caresses ever, ever but in vain. 
For thus to toil for power, itself at best 
A bubble, and that bubble ne'er to boast, 1035 

Yet still toil on — is doubtless to roll back. 
Up the high hill, the huge, stern, struggling stone ; 
That wbi